Despite an overlong last act, Owen produces another grim, tightly woven, and resolutely professional piece of work with a...

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THE DEVIL'S TRIANGLE

Richmond reporter Willie Black’s sixth adventure kicks off when one of his favorite watering holes becomes the site of a truly epic brush with the law.

The Dark Star is the favored spot for the attorneys of Bartley, Bowman and Bush to celebrate happy hour each Friday, and that’s who’s sitting around the bar when a twin-engine Beechcraft comes through the front window to make an unscheduled landing. What’s not to like about 22 dead lawyers? Well, one of them is Greg Ellis, the estranged husband of Willie’s third wife, Kate, and Cindy Peroni, Willie’s current squeeze, isn’t happy to see her man comforting his ex. More to the point, what looked at first like a horrible accident soon shows signs of being altogether more sinister. David Biggio, the man at the controls of the Beechcraft, had stolen it from his landlord, James "Chopper" Ware, such a short time before the crash that Willie suspects he had a deep-laid plan—a suspicion that hardens into near certainty with the news that, first, Biggio took out a $500,000 insurance policy payable to his 12-year-old daughter, Brandy, only two weeks ago, and, second, Thomas Jackson Bonesteel, the ambulance chaser who got Biggio’s ex full custody of Brandy, preceded his fellow members of the bar in violent death by a remarkably short time. The headlines promise to be huge if only Willie (Grace, 2016, etc.) can keep his job at his dying newspaper, which is hemorrhaging staff members every day in anticipation of yet another sale to yet another soulless journalism chain, even though Willie insists, “We’re like the ugly baby everybody passes over at the orphanage.”

Despite an overlong last act, Owen produces another grim, tightly woven, and resolutely professional piece of work with a memorably nightmarish payoff.

Pub Date: June 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-57962-499-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Permanent Press

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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.

THINGS IN JARS

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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