A satisfying historical murder mystery set apart by its compelling female cast.

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THE HOLLOWS

After the violent death of an elderly woman in 1926, a young sheriff’s investigation inadvertently reveals the deeply contentious history of her Ohio county, tracing back to the Civil War.

Lily Ross, a widowed mother of two small children who was appointed to fill out her husband's term as sheriff after he died, and then won her own election, is barely holding her life together in her small Ohio town. When she is notified that a woman has died after a fall from the tunnel over the railroad tracks, she learns quickly that many in town, including her best friend Hildy Cooper's mother; her rival candidate for sheriff; and the employees of the Hollows, the asylum the woman escaped from, would all prefer the death quietly be declared accidental with no questions asked. Lily’s investigation is increasingly complicated when she finds a white robe belonging to a local Women of the Ku Klux Klan group at an abandoned house the victim passed through the night she died. These current events grow even more urgent once the victim is identified as Thea Kincaide, a relative of Hildy Cooper's, who witnessed her father’s murder as a child and testified that an escaped slave committed the crime. Montgomery’s second novel in a series about Kinship, Ohio (The Widows, 2019), and Lily Ross is a skillfully told murder mystery that features a rich array of characters and a sophisticated portrayal of a small town grappling with its own racist past and ongoing conflicted present. Secondary plots, including Hildy’s affair with a miner despite the objections of her overbearing mother and the white schoolteacher’s relationship with an African American man seeking to integrate the union of mine workers, are equally well developed and deeply connected to the larger story about the tensions in Kinship. Despite such complex plots and characters, the novel moves along briskly without sacrificing eloquence in its prose.

A satisfying historical murder mystery set apart by its compelling female cast.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-18454-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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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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