Leigh’s fourth (A Flame in the Wind of Death, 2014, etc.) is a complex case loaded with forensic and historical detail, the...

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TWO PARTS BLOODY MURDER

An ice-cold case heats up when a new murder discloses an old one.

Checking out a story about a body hidden in an old building, Massachusetts State Police Trooper Leigh Abbott finds a recently dead man. Then, while waiting for the crime scene team, she and the medical examiner find a hidden door. At the bottom of the stairs is the Blue Ruin speak-easy, and behind a brick wall are the remains of a corpse. It’s a perfect case for Leigh to work with her lover, forensic anthropologist Dr. Matt Lowell, and his team. Someone has been sending Leigh packages of material suggesting that her father, a respected state trooper killed in the line of duty, was a dirty cop. She takes a chance on asking a computer expert to go over the material while she works the two murders. The more recent corpse is that of Peter Holt, the only son of wealthy widow Evelyn Holt. And the skeletal remains prove to be those of Charles Ward, Mrs. Holt’s father, who’s been missing ever since Prohibition. Since Ward was the owner of the speak-easy, Leigh looks for a connection between the Holt family and the Kain family, who first reported the possibility of the hidden body. The elder Kain, now in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s, was once a bricklayer, and evidence suggests that Ward was killed with a bricklayer’s tool. Although Leigh is certain that Kain is Charles Ward's killer, she can’t prove it, and the long-ago unsolved murder of Kain’s wife only complicates the case. As they dig for clues, Leigh and Matt find feuding families, an innocent man in prison and new information about Leigh’s father.

Leigh’s fourth (A Flame in the Wind of Death, 2014, etc.) is a complex case loaded with forensic and historical detail, the authors’ best so far.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4328-3027-4

Page Count: 282

Publisher: Five Star/Gale Cengage

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 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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The racism, classism, and sexism of 50 years ago wrapped up in a stylish, sexy, suspenseful period drama about a newsroom...

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LADY IN THE LAKE

Baltimore in the 1960s is the setting for this historical fiction about a real-life unsolved drowning.

In her most ambitious work to date, Lippman (Sunburn, 2018, etc.) tells the story of Maddie Schwartz, an attractive 37-year-old Jewish housewife who abruptly leaves her husband and son to pursue a long-held ambition to be a journalist, and Cleo Sherwood, an African-American cocktail waitress about whom little is known. Sherwood's body was found in a lake in a city park months after she disappeared, and while no one else seems to care enough to investigate, Maddie becomes obsessed—partly due to certain similarities she perceives between her life and Cleo's, partly due to her faith in her own detective skills. The story unfolds from Maddie's point of view as well as that of Cleo's ghost, who seems to be watching from behind the scenes, commenting acerbically on Maddie's nosing around like a bull in a china shop after getting a job at one of the city papers. Added to these are a chorus of Baltimore characters who make vivid one-time appearances: a jewelry store clerk, an about-to-be-murdered schoolgirl, "Mr. Helpline," a bartender, a political operative, a waitress, a Baltimore Oriole, the first African-American female policewoman (these last two are based on real people), and many more. Maddie's ambition propels her forward despite the cost to others, including the family of the deceased and her own secret lover, a black policeman. Lippman's high-def depiction of 1960s Baltimore and the atmosphere of the newsroom at that time—she interviewed associates of her father, Baltimore Sun journalist Theo Lippman Jr., for the details—ground the book in fascinating historical fact.The literary gambit she balances atop that foundation—the collage of voices—works impressively, showcasing the author's gift for rhythms of speech. The story is bigger than the crime, and the crime is bigger than its solution, making Lippman's skill as a mystery novelist work as icing on the cake.

The racism, classism, and sexism of 50 years ago wrapped up in a stylish, sexy, suspenseful period drama about a newsroom and the city it covers.

Pub Date: July 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-239001-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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