Heijens premieres a rare heroine who’s both gritty and reflective. Here’s hoping for a series.

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WRONGFUL CONVICTION

A high school teacher’s world goes haywire when a law student probes a 30-year-old case.

At the time of their murders, there seemed little doubt that golf pro Leland Booker killed his wife, Marley, along with their daughters, Lissa and Robin. The couple had left Georgia under a cloud. Rumor had it that because of that cloud, the Shore Country Club’s owner, Leo Bishop, could afford to pay Booker far less than the going rate. Marley liked to spend Leland’s money, even if he wasn’t making much, and their fights left Marley’s ivory skin dotted with visible bruises. So why did Adam Bennett choose Booker’s case for his third-year project in Criminal Defender Clinic? Jean Jankowski can’t figure Adam out, and Adam can’t leave Jean alone. She remembers the Bookers better than almost anyone. As one of the few folks in Norwood who didn’t turn her back on the mixed-race Booker kids, she’d babysat Lissa and Robin the summer they died. She’s convinced that if she hadn’t forgotten to buy apple juice the day before, the girls would never have drunk the insecticide-laced orange juice along with their mother that morning. But it isn’t just guilt that persuades Jean to throw in with Adam. Teaching chemistry at Northwood High isn’t rocking her world anymore. And the more she reads Adam’s files, the more she’s convinced that the police, particularly Detective Marianne Weede, targeted Leland because he was black. Jean and Adam don’t need to find Marley’s killer; as Adam points out repeatedly, reopening the case requires them only to find some sort of misconduct on the part of the police, the prosecution, or even Booker’s own lawyer. Still, as she and Adam move forward, Jean can’t help but worry about what will happen if their investigation helps Leland only by pointing a finger at someone else.

Heijens premieres a rare heroine who’s both gritty and reflective. Here’s hoping for a series.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4328-3079-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Five Star/Gale Cengage

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 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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An appealing new heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a memorably nightmarish family make this one of Box’s best.

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THE BITTERROOTS

The creator of Wyoming Fish and Game Warden Joe Pickett (Wolf Pack, 2019, etc.) launches a new series starring a female private eye who messes with a powerful family and makes everyone involved rue the day.

Cassie Dewell’s been taking a monthly retainer from Bozeman attorney Rachel Mitchell for investigations of one sort and another, but she really doesn’t want to look into the case of Rachel’s newest client. That’s partly because Blake Kleinsasser, the fourth-generation firstborn of a well-established ranching family who moved to New York and made his own bundle before returning back home, comes across as a repellent jerk and partly because all the evidence indicates that he raped Franny Porché, his 15-year-old niece. And there’s plenty of evidence, from a rape kit showing his DNA to a lengthy, plausible statement from Franny. But Cassie owes Rachel, and Rachel tells her she doesn’t have to dig up exculpatory evidence, just follow the trail where it leads so that she can close off every other possibility. So Cassie agrees even though there’s an even more compelling reason not to: The Kleinsassers—Horst II and Margaret and their three other children, John Wayne, Rand, and Cheyenne, Franny’s thrice-divorced mother—are not only toxic, but viperishly dangerous to Blake and now Cassie. Everyone in Lochsa County, from Sheriff Ben Wagy on down, is in their pockets, and everyone Cassie talks to, from the Kleinsassers to the local law, finds new ways to make her life miserable. But Cassie, an ex-cop single mother, isn’t one to back down, especially since she wonders why anyone would take all the trouble to stop an investigation of a case that was as rock-solid as this one’s supposed to be.

An appealing new heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a memorably nightmarish family make this one of Box’s best.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-05105-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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