Readers won’t be surprised to find the answers less compelling than the memorably baroque riddle of the opening tableau.



Farjeon’s gift for striking hooks (Mystery in White, 2016, etc.) reaches a perverse pinnacle in this reprint from 1939 by the British Library of Crime Classics.

On a whim, Ted Lyte, a minor-league pickpocket with ambitions above his station, breaks into a house off Havenford Creek, Benwick. It’s not until he’s let himself in through an obliging window that he wonders whether he should look downstairs for silver or upstairs for jewelry. At any rate, the question is moot, for moments after he opens the wrong door, Ted is fleeing in terror, closely followed by freelance journalist and amateur yachtsman Thomas Hazeldean, who’s struck by the stranger’s suspicious behavior. But who wouldn’t run away from Haven House when he finds the corpses of six men and one woman decorously arrayed around the drawing room? There’s no immediate indication of the cause of all these deaths or even of the identities of the dead people; the only clues are a bullet through the portrait of a young girl hanging in the drawing room, a dead cat on the path outside, and a paper inscribed “WITH APOLOGIES FROM THE SUICIDE CLUB” on one side and “Particulars at address 59•16s 4•6e G” on the other. To indulge in Farjeon’s own brand of dry understatement, it’s quite a riddle for DI Kendall and Sgt. Wade, and it’s lucky for them that Hazeldean has taken such an interest in the case. And lucky for the reader as well, since his adventures when he pursues a lead to the Pension Paula, the house in Boulogne that’s currently home to John Fenner, the master of Haven House, and his niece, Dora, the original of the defaced portrait, are a good deal more interesting, if more helter-skelter, than Kendall and Wade’s straight-faced attempts to discover the pattern beneath the chaos in Benwick.

Readers won’t be surprised to find the answers less compelling than the memorably baroque riddle of the opening tableau.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4642-0908-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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