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ACT OF FATE

A DOC BRADY MYSTERY

Another potent, vigorously written entry in a series that continues to keep mystery fans rapt.

Awards & Accolades

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In this fifth installment of a mystery series, a resilient Houston orthopedist and amateur gumshoe returns to solve another complex case.

In this volume, author/orthopedist Bishop departs from his typical formula to more intensively incorporate several of Dr. Jim Bob “Doc” Brady’s family members in a new investigation. Previous volumes like Act of Negligence (2021) have featured the good doctor’s longtime wife of nearly three decades, Mary Louise, as a solid foundation of love and support. This time, she is fully embroiled in a scandal that puts her life in serious jeopardy. As typical for a Brady mystery, there are many moving parts successfully suspended in motion. This one kicks off with the coldblooded murder of Meredith Brown James, whose marriage to neurosurgeon Dr. Frank James has seen better days. She is slain while planning a romantic reconciliatory dinner that she hopes will revive their relationship. Meredith’s father, distinguished Houston philanthropist and cancer survivor Melvin Brown, also happens to be Doc’s patient. At the time of her murder, the physician was about to perform knee replacement surgery, his specialty, on Melvin. Further tragedy ensues when Doc learns that Mary Louise has been seriously injured in an automobile accident. Suffering massive cranial and skeletal trauma, she lies in a coma. Desperate to save her life, Doc appeals to Frank James, one of his close colleagues, to tend to Mary Louise. But the “ladies’ man” has bigger problems to deal with, as his wife’s murder has taken on a life of its own with many serpentine detours and suspects galore (himself included). The cutthroat killer shot a newly pregnant Meredith with two bullets, one to the forehead and the other inexplicably through the fifth rib into her heart. With Frank emotionally and physically unavailable to medically treat Mary Louise, Doc turns to physician George Flanagan, an instantly unlikable man “with the bedside manner of a roach.”

As usual in Bishop’s energetic series, Doc is pulled in many different directions. Here, he works with police detectives to uncover Meredith’s murderer and find the driver responsible for Mary Louise’s injuries. But he has found help this time, enlisting his adult son, J.J., and his investigative firm to assist in sleuthing the case details. As the author’s sturdy puzzler plays out, so does a nefarious plot that readers will devilishly enjoy. By placing Mary Louise’s life on the line, the story creates a particular urgency to uncover the killer and solve the mystery, and this aspect infuses a good amount of suspense into the novel. Despite the somewhat tidy ending, this new adventure ultimately lives up to the Brady series standards, as does Bishop’s vivid clinical settings and descriptions. Prolific to a fault, the author includes a teaser chapter of the next volume after a fitting epilogue. With no end in sight, the fierce and fearless Doc will continue his fight for Texas justice as the thrilling tales keep on coming. Fans of interwoven family dramas and mysteries will especially enjoy this installment.

Another potent, vigorously written entry in a series that continues to keep mystery fans rapt.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 979-8-9861596-1-4

Page Count: 380

Publisher: Mantid Press

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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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EVERYONE IN MY FAMILY HAS KILLED SOMEONE

This book and its author are cleverer than you and want you to know it.

In this mystery, the narrator constantly adds commentary on how the story is constructed.

In 1929, during the golden age of mysteries, a (real-life) writer named Ronald Knox published the “10 Commandments of Detective Fiction,” 10 rules that mystery writers should obey in order to “play fair.” When faced with his own mystery story, our narrator, an author named Ernest Cunningham who "write[s] books about how to write books," feels like he must follow these rules himself. The story seemingly begins on the night his brother Michael calls to ask him to help bury a body—and shows up with the body and a bag containing $267,000. Fast-forward three years, and Ernie’s family has gathered at a ski resort to celebrate Michael’s release from prison. The family dynamics are, to put it lightly, complicated—and that’s before a man shows up dead in the snow and Michael arrives with a coffin in a truck. When the local cop arrests Michael for the murder, things get even more complicated: There are more deaths; Michael tells a story about a coverup involving their father, who was part of a gang called the Sabers; and Ernie still has (most of) the money and isn’t sure whom to trust or what to do with it. Eventually, Ernie puts all the pieces together and gathers the (remaining) family members and various extras for the great denouement. As the plot develops, it becomes clear that there’s a pretty interesting mystery at the heart of this novel, but Stevenson’s postmodern style has Ernie constantly breaking the fourth wall to explain how the structure of his story meets the criteria for a successful detective story. Some readers are drawn to mysteries because they love the formula and logic—this one’s for them. If you like the slow, sometimes-creepy, sometimes-comforting unspooling of a good mystery, it might not be your cup of tea—though the ending, to be fair, is still something of a surprise.

This book and its author are cleverer than you and want you to know it.

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-06-327902-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Mariner Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2022

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