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DEATH OF MR. DODSLEY

Golden Age fans with a taste for deferred gratification are in for another unexpected treat.

The fatal shooting of a London bookseller brings detectives from Scotland Yard into competition with a private inquiry agent in this puzzler from 1937.

Making his nightly rounds on Charing Cross Road, Constable Roberts discovers the body of Richard Dodsley, shot to death only a few minutes before. If Roberts hadn’t been held up by the inebriated young man he encountered minutes earlier, would he have caught the murderer red-handed? That puzzle takes a back seat to questions about who could have entered the locked bookshop at 3:00 a.m., who would’ve wanted to kill a man whose passion was rare books, and whether any of the suspects is telling the truth about anything. The early suspicion that falls on Dick Dodsley, the victim’s nephew and heir, is dissipated—or is it intensified?—when a motorcycle accident that same night leaves him first in a coma, then with amnesia. Another coincidence is that Dick’s fiancee, Margery Grafton, has just published Death at the Desk, a whodunit that uncannily predicts certain details of the real-life crime. Anglican priest Ferguson (1871–1952) can’t breathe much life into the suspects’ interminable rounds of questioning by Inspector Mallet, DS Crabb, and his franchise detective, Francis MacNab, a customer of Dodsley’s whom Margery engages on Dick’s behalf. But he punctuates the tale with scenes of delicate comedy ranging from a death-watch session of the House of Commons to an episode in which the coppers attempt to make sense of Richard Dodsley’s record books. And the double-twist ending will awaken even readers who’ve been lulled to sleep by the preceding proceedings.

Golden Age fans with a taste for deferred gratification are in for another unexpected treat.

Pub Date: May 28, 2024

ISBN: 9781464216299

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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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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THE COMFORT OF GHOSTS

A fitting finale to a marvelously entertaining series full of finely drawn characters often scarred by the horrors of war.

Farewell, Maisie Dobbs.

Once a maid in Lady Rowan Compton’s household, then a university student, a nurse, and an agent of the British Secret Service, Maisie has blossomed into a psychologist and private investigator. Her first husband, James Compton, died while test-flying an experimental aircraft. The end of World War II finds her living in the Dower House of the Compton estate with her second husband, Mark Scott—an American diplomat—and their adopted daughter, Anna, and comforting her former mother-in-law, Lady Rowan, who’s just lost her own spouse. When she hears there are squatters living in the Comptons’ London house, Maisie heads to Belgravia, where she finds four teenagers in residence along with an ailing Will Beale, the son of Maisie’s business partner, who survived a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. Checking with her old friend DCI Robbie MacFarlane, whose help she’d asked in finding the previously missing Will, she gets a bad feeling about Robbie’s interest in the squatters. Worried about the youngsters, who were part of some secret government project, Maisie talks them into letting her into the house to help Will. When they admit they witnessed the murder of a Nazi sympathizer that the government wants covered up, she moves the group to a safer place. Her investigation of the murder discloses a mass of nasty secrets. One of the teens found a packet of letters under the floorboards of the Compton house belonging to one of Maisie’s fellow maids, killed in an explosion, who had a child with James when they were very young. Finding that child, who was put up for adoption, may be the most challenging task Maisie’s ever undertaken.

A fitting finale to a marvelously entertaining series full of finely drawn characters often scarred by the horrors of war.

Pub Date: June 4, 2024

ISBN: 9781641296069

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Soho Crime

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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