Deaver describes five of these stories as new, and his publisher identifies five more as reprints. One of the others,...

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TROUBLE IN MIND

THE COLLECTED STORIES, VOLUME 3

Fans of the genre’s most indefatigable prestidigitator are in for a treat: The third volume of his short stories (More Twisted, 2006, etc.) may be his best.

“I hate ambiguous endings!” Deaver announces in his prefatory Author’s Note. Fair enough, but there’s plenty of ambiguity, some of it teasing, some of it nerve-wracking, in the middle of most of these dozen tales from the past ten years. Deaver regulars Lincoln Rhyme and Kathryn Dance appear in a pair of stories—he tangles with an exceptionally messy serial killer in “A Textbook Case”; she battles the clock to extract information from a white supremacist about the terrorist plot that’s about to bear fruit in “Fast”—that could have been sketches for their novels. In “Paradice,” Hollywood location scout John Pellam crashes his truck, its brakes shot, into the western burg of Gurney and multiple betrayals. “Reconciliation” begins in a more ruminative vein, as a man returns to his hometown in the hope of somehow reconnecting with his uncaring late father, but ends with the usual Deaver surprises. Best of all are “The Weapon,” another interrogation, this one with a sharper-edged punch line; “The Therapist,” whose hero has a unique way of attracting and helping new clients; and “Bump,” in which a has-been actor ends up in a reality TV poker show whose stakes are higher than he can imagine. The only real disappointments are “The Obit,” an undernourished and eminently predictable tale that begins with Lincoln Rhyme’s obituary, and “Forever,” whose opening question—why are so many aging couples engaging in murder-suicide pacts?—bogs down in disjointed plot twists and an ending that’s, well, too ambiguous.

Deaver describes five of these stories as new, and his publisher identifies five more as reprints. One of the others, “Bump,” is a reprint as well. But what about “The Competitors,” a routine tale of terrorism at the Olympics? It’s just one more mystery.

Pub Date: March 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4555-2679-6

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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

THINGS IN JARS

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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