An entertaining haunted-house mystery with a few modern twists.



From the Toni Day Mystery series

Munro (Murder Under the Microscope, 2018, etc.) brings her sleuthing pathologist back to investigate a disappearance in a spooky mansion in this, the sixth novel in the Toni Day mystery series.

This new adventure finds noted murder-solving pathologist Toni Day away from her usual haunt of Twin Falls, Idaho, and back in her hometown of Long Beach, California. At the request of her mother, Toni is in town to solve the disappearance of Dick Campbell, the new husband of her mother’s friend Doris. Doris believes it has something to do with the old MacTavish house that the couple has been living in, a mansion inherited from Dick’s great-uncle. “Voices coming out of nowhere,” Toni’s mother explains of Doris’ experience. “Furniture moving around by itself. Things falling off shelves and breaking. Things disappearing and reappearing. Doris felt as if she were losing her mind, because Dick never noticed anything, never heard the voices, and told her she was just imagining things.” Toni, with the help of her husband, Hal, and stepfather Nigel, explores the house, discovering arsenic that they think might be behind Doris’ recent health problems. The case gets more complicated, however, when Doris falls into a coma. It appears that the old MacTavish house has more surprises than Toni initially suspected, including a dark history that might explain what happened to its inhabitants…and what might happen to Toni as well. Munro’s narration—from the point of view of Toni—is sharp and highly readable, mixing humor with a bit of the macabre. When Toni suggests that the blood found at the bottom of the dumbwaiter shaft points to the fact that someone likely died there, the British Nigel explains that “Actually, that’s called a hoistway….Not a shaft.” With its modern pathology science and its gothic setting, the book makes for a classic haunted-house story with a satisfyingly credible forensic mystery at the heart of it. As with Toni’s past adventures, Munro offers a wonderful bit of escapism.

An entertaining haunted-house mystery with a few modern twists.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5320-5492-1

Page Count: 222

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2018

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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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Child builds tension to unbearable extremes, then blows it out in sharply choreographed violence, even if his plot has more...


From the Jack Reacher series , Vol. 5

Smashingly suspenseful fifth in Child’s series (Running Blind, 2000, etc.) lands this British author’s rootless, laconic action hero in southwest Texas, where a femme fatale lures him into a family squabble that inevitably turns violent.

In the kind of daylight-noir setting that Jim Thompson loved, ex-military cop Jack Reacher has his thumb out on a lonely west Texas highway when he’s picked up by Carmine Greer, the Mexican-American wife of bad-ol’-boy Sloop Greer. It seems that Sloop, elder son of a white-trash-turned-oil-rich ranching dynasty, is nearing the end of a prison term for tax evasion, and Carmine, whose body Reacher sees is marked with signs of physical abuse, wants Reacher to be her bodyguard—or, failing that, kill the man in such a way that Carmine can still hold on to her terminally cute six-year-old daughter Ellie. Reacher refuses but decides to meet the folks: Rusty, Sloop’s racist, charmless mother, and Bobby, Sloop’s stupid, pugnacious brother. Meanwhile, a trio of paid assassins is littering the Texas roadside with corpses, starting with Sloop’s lawyer, Al Eugene. In a set-piece as good as anything in Elmore Leonard, Bobby sends two ranch-hands to ambush Reacher at an Abilene roadhouse filled with 20 other cowboys spoiling for a fight. Reacher walks away without a scratch, telling Bobby that his hospitalized ranch-hands have “quit.” Child twists his increasingly hokey plot into a pretzel when Sloop is found dead and Carmine confesses to killing him. Reacher just can’t believe that Carmine is guilty and teams up with Alice Aarons, a leggy Jewish lesbian fresh out of law school, who trusts him with her car, her handgun, and her life.

Child builds tension to unbearable extremes, then blows it out in sharply choreographed violence, even if his plot has more holes in it than the shirt Reacher uses for target practice.

Pub Date: July 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-14726-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2001

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