Newcomer Gates, a Utah native practicing law in Texas, turns a wonderfully jaundiced eye on the beauty and grotesqueries of...

BRIGHAM’S DAY

Atmospheric legal procedural that peers into the uninviting shadows cast by the Church of the Latter-day Saints on contemporary and historical Utah.

After defense lawyer Brigham Bybee failed to win a high-profile lawsuit brought by a teenaged rape victim against a powerful Mormon church elder, he started to hit the bottle, his wife divorced him, and he was almost disbarred. Now, after a year of sobriety, Bybee, who was raised by Mormon parents but has never numbered himself among the Saints, is tapped by aging circuit judge Reed Macklesprang to be second banana on the legal team defending Owen Parks, an illiterate drifter accused of murdering Mormon Doug Farnsworth. Though the evidence against Parks is slight, Bybee senses that Macklesprang hopes Bybee’s history of ineptitude, and the obnoxious shenanigans of lead defense lawyer Ronnie Watters, will lead to a quick conviction. Against his better judgment, Bybee becomes friendly with Farnsworth's beautiful, crippled granddaughter, Zolene Swapp (the characters' odd Mormon names are a running joke). Of course, Zolene knows more about her grandfather's dealings with the church hierarchy than she's willing to admit. Could this be the reason that she vomits after having torrid sex with Bybee in a muddy mountain lake? When Watters is found dead in the same lake, Bybee learns of a letter that has been passed down through the family from one of the original participants in the 1857 slaughter of more than a hundred innocent men, women and children at Mountain Meadows. Can he use the letter, and the conscience of the enormously fat Sheriff LaGrand Little, to save his client, avenge Farnsworth’s death, and vanquish an old enemy?

Newcomer Gates, a Utah native practicing law in Texas, turns a wonderfully jaundiced eye on the beauty and grotesqueries of his home state, and on the disquieting Mormon fringe culture that seems to hold it in an iron grip.

Pub Date: July 7, 2000

ISBN: 0-8027-3344-1

Page Count: 204

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

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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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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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