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More interested in the heroine’s amatory adventures and future home than in a piddling murder or two.

The death of her father opens both new heartaches and new opportunities for surgical resident Dr. Emily Hartford.

A providential unannounced visit on her way back to Chicago puts Emily on the scene in time to call an ambulance for Dr. Robert Hartford, the veteran coroner of Freeport County, Michigan, but although the prompt medical attention he receives enables him to tell his daughter, “The day…your mom died…I was meeting…a woman,” it isn’t enough to save his life. No sooner has Emily, shocked at the death of her long-estranged father so soon after they’d tentatively reconciled (The Coroner, 2018), arranged for his funeral than County Sheriff Nick Larson begs her to identify a collection of bones that’s been unearthed in the excavation for a new housing development. Nick arranges for University of Michigan forensic anthropologist Dr. Charles Payton to make the identification, and he confirms Nick’s hunch about the bones: They’re human, they’re female, and in life they belonged to Sandi Parkman, a high school student who went missing 10 years ago. Now Emily finds herself pressed from every side imaginable. Brandon, the Chicago surgeon she just broke up with, wants to go through with their wedding and indicates that he’s willing to bend over backward to accommodate her. Dr. Claiborne, her retiring supervisor in Chicago, wants to know if she and Brandon are interested in taking over his practice. Freeport County commissioner Hank Wurthers wants to know if she intends to stand for election to coroner in her father’s place. On top of everything else, her father’s will reveals that she has a half sister, Anna Johnson, whom she’s never heard of, much less met. Despite her grief, Emily disguises herself on two separate occasions to visit the Silver Slipper, where Sandi’s kid sister, Tiffani, interrupts her pole dancing long enough to intimate that Nick killed her sister.

More interested in the heroine’s amatory adventures and future home than in a piddling murder or two.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64385-122-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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

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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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