Rankin (The Beat Goes On, 2015, etc.) takes his time setting up all these plots. But it’s well worth the wait to see how the...

EVEN DOGS IN THE WILD

Veteran cop John Rebus emerges from retirement to look into a pair of parallel cases of revenge.

When David Menzies Minton, former Lord Advocate of Scotland, is bludgeoned to death in his Edinburgh home, DI Siobhan Clarke shares one crime-scene detail she shouldn’t with her friend DI Malcolm Fox: a note saying, “I’M GOING TO KILL YOU FOR WHAT YOU DID.” After someone shoots at crime lord Big Ger Cafferty, she also rousts John Rebus, a month into his retirement, from his usual station at the Oxford Bar. As a detective, Rebus had developed an odd working relationship with Cafferty. So now he agrees to be a consultant, especially after Cafferty gets the same death-threat note as Minton. There’s no obvious link between Minton’s murder and the attempted hit on Cafferty, however, and even less connection with a past break-in and the murder of a lottery winner. Meanwhile, Fox reluctantly becomes his boss’ spy for a surveillance team that hopes to take down a Glaswegian gangster and his heir apparent, who’ve come to Edinburgh on the trail of a man who betrayed them. It’s not easy for a man widely regarded as an internal snitch to win the team’s confidence. Fox even has to take a beating from the man he suspects is the team’s undercover member. But he takes a cue from Rebus, who was notorious for going his own way when he was a cop and is even more inclined to do so as a civilian. It pays off when Rebus uses his connections and know-how to help Clarke and Fox find the key they’ve been looking for, a terrible secret that spills into the turf war among criminal factions and exposes the past lives of those supposedly on the right side of the law.

Rankin (The Beat Goes On, 2015, etc.) takes his time setting up all these plots. But it’s well worth the wait to see how the latest entry in this celebrated series fits all the pieces together.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-34251-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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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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A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...

BADLANDS

Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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