Readers won’t mind that Davidson keeps moving the goal posts during the finale because the buildup is such a satisfying...



A blackmail plot produces complications upon complications in a story of sex trafficking, class wars, and stolen identities.

Someone is blackmailing Jo Greaver with obscene photos of her previous life as a teenage sex trafficking victim. When she arranges to meet up with the man demanding payment, a gunfight breaks out, leaving Jo wounded and the blackmailer, Andray Baxter, apparently dead. When she returns home to pack a bag before taking it on the lam, Jo can’t bear to tell her boyfriend, Cal, what’s happened, especially since she’s never told Cal about her early life, when she was raised by her drug-addicted sister, Lori, on the mean streets of New York. The presence of Cal’s imposing, upper-crust mother, Priscilla McGarran, who just happens to be resting on their couch when Jo enters, doesn’t make it easy for Jo to escape, but she thinks she’s in the clear once she’s left Manhattan behind. Wrong: Her body gives out on her shortly thereafter. The NYPD’s Sheryn Sterling has already had a long day picking up her 14-year-old son following his own arrest for protesting deportations while black when she and her partner, Rafael Mendoza, are put on the case. At first it looks like Baxter’s murder is cut and dried. After all, he has a note in his pocket that essentially reads “Blackmail Jo Greaver.” But clues at the scene and Jo’s own behavior when she’s arrested make Sheryn suspect that there’s more to the story. Davidson incorporates details about Sheryn and Rafael that connect their experiences of being seen and judged by others as a black woman cop and a gay cop who walks with a cane with their willingness to look more closely at Jo and Andray. What they find is enough blackmail, impersonation, and class warfare to seriously complicate what seemed like a straightforward case.

Readers won’t mind that Davidson keeps moving the goal posts during the finale because the buildup is such a satisfying page-turner.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9203-6

Page Count: 394

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Creepy, violent, and propulsive; a standout gothic mystery.


Lady detective Bridie Devine searches for a missing child and finds much more than she bargained for.

Bridie Devine is no stranger to the seedy underworld of Victorian London. An accomplished detective with medical training, she sometimes helps the police by examining bodies to determine the cause of death. Bridie recently failed to find a lost child, and when she’s approached about another missing child, the daughter of Sir Edmund Berwick, she isn’t enthusiastic about taking on the case. But Christabel Berwick is no ordinary child. Sir Edmund has hidden Christabel away her whole life and wants Bridie to believe this is an ordinary kidnapping. Bridie does a little digging and learns that Christabel isn’t his daughter so much as his prized specimen. Sir Edmund believes Christabel is a “merrow,” a darker and less romanticized version of a mermaid. Bridie is skeptical, but there are reports of Christabel’s sharp teeth, color-changing eyes, and ability to drown people on dry land. Given that Bridie’s new companion is a ghost who refuses to tell her why he’s haunting her, Bridie might want to open her mind a bit. There’s a lot going on in this singular novel, and none of it pretty. Bridie’s London is soaked with mud and blood, and her past is nightmarish at best. Kidd (Mr. Flood’s Last Resort, 2018, etc.) is an expert at setting a supernatural mood perfect for ghosts and merrows, but her human villains make them seem mundane by comparison. With so much detail and so many clever, Dickensian characters, readers might petition Kidd to give Bridie her own series.

Creepy, violent, and propulsive; a standout gothic mystery.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-2128-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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