The whole sad carnival comes crashing to an unforgettable halt just in time for the world’s most macabre Easter.

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DRY COUNTY

Just how far will an Arkansas preacher go to conceal his sin from his family and his congregation?

Everyone in Stock knows the Rev. Richard Weatherford, the pastor of the First Baptist Church. They know he’s a man of God, a devoted father to his five children, a staunch vote against allowing liquor into Van Buren County, and a reliable helper in distress. And all this is true. Even so, college dropout Gary Doane is convinced that everyone from Brother Weatherford’s wife, Penny, to his church deacons would see him a lot differently if they knew about his secret fling with Gary, and that’s why he wants $30,000 to go away quietly. Unable to put his hands on that kind of money, Weatherford passes the early hours of the day before Easter striking a devil’s bargain with Brian Harten: He’ll drop his opposition to the liquor store Harten’s hoped to open—he’ll even talk the other voters out of keeping the county dry—if only Harten will give him the money. Of course Harten, who quit his job at Tommy Weller’s bar on the strength of his dreams and started the day by watching his car get repossessed, is even more broke than Weatherford, so he hatches a deeply misbegotten plan to raise the cash. His plan will eventually suck in Weller; Sarabeth Simmons, the daughter of Weller’s lover, Carmen Fuller; and Penny Weatherford, who’s forced into an impossibly ugly position. As the principals take turns plotting their next moves, never thinking more than five minutes ahead, things predictably spiral out of control with all the horrifyingly matter-of-fact force of Scott Smith’s parable A Simple Plan as Hinkson (No Tomorrow, 2018, etc.) leads his all-too-human hero step by step into a monstrous pool of corruption.

The whole sad carnival comes crashing to an unforgettable halt just in time for the world’s most macabre Easter.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64313-223-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Pegasus Crime

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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