Robb does all too little with the promising notion of doubling the cops with the actresses who play them, or indeed with any...

CELEBRITY IN DEATH

A Hollywood party at which Lt. Eve Dallas and Det. Delia Peabody get to spend quality time with the actresses playing them in a new movie is interrupted by what turns out to be only the latest in a long string of murders.

Now that potty-mouthed journalist Nadine Furst has sold her book about still another of Eve’s innumerable triumphs (Treachery in Death, 2011, etc.) to Joel Steinburger’s Big Bang Productions, the cameras are rolling on Marlo Durn, playing Eve; K.T. Harris, playing Peabody; and Julian Cross, playing Eve’s husband Roarke, the world’s sexiest millionaire. But the onscreen mayhem is topped by the news that K.T. has stepped out of a dinner party bringing the lead actresses together with the two detectives they’re playing, gone upstairs for a smoke and ended up dead in a rooftop swimming pool. K.T. is soon unmasked as a conniving blackmailer who’ll be missed mainly by her bewildered parents back home. With so many potential victims of her craft—director Mason Roundtree, his wife Connie Burkette, publicist Valerie Xaviar, Marlo’s lover, actor Matthew Zank—literally in the same room, how can Eve and Peabody possibly spot a killer who’s already moved on by eliminating a potential witness? Only by getting a hunch to dig deeper into one suspect’s background and find a trail of homicide leading back from the future to the early 2020s. Their discovery leads to a long, long wrap-up—leaning on possible accomplices, inducing one of them to wear a wire, trapping the killer into another attempted murder, parading the array of evidence after a high-profile arrest—all of it eminently routine.

Robb does all too little with the promising notion of doubling the cops with the actresses who play them, or indeed with any other elements of this futuristic, but surprisingly retro, closed-circle game of Hollywood squares.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-15830-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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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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A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...

BADLANDS

Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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