Another travelogue more notable for its charming protagonists and historical detail than any great mystery.

THE BATH CONSPIRACY

A duo of doughty detectives visit Bath and find yet another mystery to solve.

As a birthday treat for American expat Dorothy Martin, her husband, retired Chief Constable Alan Nesbitt, splurges on a trip from their home in Sherebury to Bath. The city offers a plethora of things to do, and they thoroughly enjoy themselves on a visit to nearby Stonehenge until they try to put some purchases in the boot of their car only to find it filled with boxes that aren’t theirs. A security guard notices a chunk of bluestone and immediately calls Inspector Cedric Roberts, who soon satisfies himself that the couple isn't trying to steal a hunk of Stonehenge. When the police go through the contents of the boxes, it turns out to be "the oddest assortment of riches and rubbish": mostly souvenirs from museum shops but a few more valuable things, including one of Jane Austen's gloves. Dorothy spends a lot of time on her trip indulging her penchant for museum gift shops, where she meets Sammy, a friendly young man with Down syndrome, who works part time at the Jane Austen Center and a number of other places, and she becomes concerned that he may be set up as a scapegoat by the real thief. It’s obvious to the police that something fishy is going on at the hotel’s valet parking lot but much less obvious who put the items in the boot or later tried to pry it open while attempting to retrieve them. Once the stakes are raised by more thefts and physical attacks, Dorothy and Alan team up with the inspector, but it’s Sammy who helps solve the crimes.

Another travelogue more notable for its charming protagonists and historical detail than any great mystery.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7278-9250-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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A rousing legal thriller that’s also an acute study of female victimization and male privilege.

THE STOLEN HOURS

A law clerk still battling demons from her past must rise to dizzying heights in preparing a case against a serial sex killer.

Lila Nash has never truly recovered from her rape when she was 18. She’s cut herself, tried to kill herself, spent years in therapy, powered her way through law school, and landed a plum entry-level job with the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office despite the fact that Frank Dovey, the new prosecutor, has hated Lila ever since she and her law school mentor, professor Boady Sanden, embarrassed him in court. Now Andi Fitch, the aggressive prosecutor to whom Dovey has assigned Lila as an assistant in the serene confidence that she’ll fail, presses her to make the case against wedding photographer Gavin Spencer, who’s accused of assaulting and nearly killing bridesmaid Sadie Vauk. Spencer, a serial predator who plans and executes his murderous assaults meticulously and has a special gift for seeing around curves and destroying the evidence that might incriminate him, is a ruthless antagonist. As Eskens demonstrates, however, he’s cut from the same cloth as Frank Dovey, whose bloodless campaign against Lila is every bit as unscrupulous. Even readers who predict the tale’s biggest twist before it arrives will still have the breath knocked out of them by the surprises that follow. And they’ll all cheer when fragile Lila finally gains the strength to stand up to the oppressors in her life and wrestle it back from them.

A rousing legal thriller that’s also an acute study of female victimization and male privilege.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-31670-349-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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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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