SECRETS IN DEATH

The 45th entry in this fleet, easy-reading series provides a dramatic opening scene, a second act guaranteed to raise your...

Lt. Eve Dallas (Echoes in Death, 2017, etc.) investigates the murder of a gossip columnist whose death answers a thousand prayers.

Eve’s already-fraught meeting with irritating forensic anthropologist Dr. Garnet DeWinter at the fashionable watering hole Du Vin turns abruptly worse when a woman staggers out of the ladies’ room and bleeds out under her eyes. The victim, self-styled social information reporter Larinda Mars, had dirt on just about everyone who mattered—including, as it awkwardly turns out, the owner of Du Vin, who just happens to be Roarke, Eve’s billionaire husband—and wasn’t shy about digging under every rock and paying off or blackmailing possible informants for more. So although several witnesses and the security cameras so ubiquitous in 2061 swiftly identify a likely suspect, it’s impossible to distinguish that well-muffled figure from dozens of other wannabe Mars-slayers. Following their noses, Eve and her partner, Detective Amelia Peabody, focus on three of Larinda’s marks: talk screen queen Annie Knight, baseball star Wylee Stamford, and teenage actress Missy Lee Durante. Larinda was indeed blackmailing them all over secrets worth killing to preserve, sparking the moral outrage Eve’s never shy about revealing on behalf of blackmail victims “mostly trying to protect loved ones as much, maybe more, than themselves.” But the nominal victim’s insatiably feral nature makes it hard to work up an equal level of outrage over her murder or to feel much of a sense of closure when Eve plucks the perp from a crowded field of suspects who would all have been perfectly within their rights in shutting down the blackmail factory by fair means or foul.

The 45th entry in this fleet, easy-reading series provides a dramatic opening scene, a second act guaranteed to raise your most self-righteous hackles, and a denouement even Robb must have recognized as an anticlimax.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-12315-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

BADLANDS

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

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 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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