Just the thing for panting fans who can’t wait for Stephanie’s 13th numbered case. And if this bonbon is even less...



Just what Trenton’s favorite bounty-hunter needed: a stint playing Cupid’s helper as the hours tick down to Valentine’s Day.

The bail-bond business is quiet in Trenton after the holidays. The streets are too cold for hookers and pushers, and the serious crackheads celebrated Christmas by overdosing. In fact, the only real draw on Stephanie Plum’s list of Failures to Appear is relationship expert Annie Hart, who jumped bail after getting charged with armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Now Diesel, the skip-tracer who provides an even more unsuitable alternative to Stephanie’s unsuitable regular men (Twelve Sharp, 2006, etc.), has turned up with a proposition. He’s taken Annie into protective custody because she’s been threatened by her unsatisfied client Bernie Beaner, whose marriage is on the rocks. Diesel offers to turn Annie over to Stephanie after she fills in for her professionally in the weekend before Valentine’s Day. The job involves straightening out the amatory problems of divorced mom Charlene Klinger, who doesn’t want a man; lovably dorky veterinarian Dr. Gary Martin; Larry Burlew, the painfully shy butcher who keeps staring out his window at Jet, the coffee-shop waitress opposite; 35-year-old virgin Jeanine Chan; and Albert Kloughn, who’d like to marry Stephanie’s sister Valerie but just can’t bring himself to pop the question and submit to the ceremony. As usual, Stephanie’s job will eventually lead her to some serious mobsters—this time fearsome ex-button man Lou Delvina—and, as usual, the plot will be seriously upstaged by the fusillade of one-liners (asked to describe the man she’d like to have deflower her, Jeanine wistfully replies, “I’d like him to have at least some teeth”).

Just the thing for panting fans who can’t wait for Stephanie’s 13th numbered case. And if this bonbon is even less substantial than her customary fare, well, Valentine’s Day isn’t really such a major holiday, is it?

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2007

ISBN: 0-312-30634-2

Page Count: 176

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2006

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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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Creepy, violent, and propulsive; a standout gothic mystery.


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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