A well-executed tale from a journalist who serves the reader a nice variation on the Good Women, Hard Jobs, Tough Spots...



A Washington Post journalist (Every Knee Shall Bow, 1995, not reviewed) brings together a tight, well-researched, and satisfying first novel that follows the unexpected path of a serial killer in Spokane—and his heroine’s attempts to keep up.

Smart, single women with pockets of unresolved guilt are big in crime novels these days, and Caroline Mabry is no exception. Daughter of divorced parents, the 36-year-old Mabry is a detective recruited to join the Southbank Strangler task force after an opening drug bust goes bad and the Spokane River’s banks start yielding up bodies. On the team with her is Dupree, a gruff cop with a tender heart, a stubborn streak and an unhappy marriage. Years earlier, Dupree had comforted Caroline after her first shooting; they’d nearly made love, and the suppressed urges add modest suspense to the background of the story. Caroline still doesn’t know if it was a “good shoot” and still doesn’t know if her 22-year-old boyfriend is right for her. So far, this is standard formula for the genre. But Walter collects his details well, and renders them in aptly coarse, rarely overheated prose. Crime scenes, “signatures,” and the ragged world of Spokane prostitution are treated with a sure, experienced hand, as are the interagency conflicts that result when a pair of celebrity profilers are brought in to help. The prime suspect in the case is not, of course, who you think it is, and though the actual killer isn’t revealed until the last 20 pages or so, Walter gives the reader a credible chase throughout. The twist—that the perp, with his grief and meticulous ways, is eerily similar to Mabry—makes the suggestive point that the distinctions between serial killers and the profilers and detectives who chase them share more in common than they’d like to think.

A well-executed tale from a journalist who serves the reader a nice variation on the Good Women, Hard Jobs, Tough Spots motif.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-06-039386-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

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


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet