A waggish, hallucinatory, blood-soaked demonstration of the maxims collected in the titular Baby’s First Felony, a brief,...



After 17 years, Straley checks back in with Cecil Younger and the citizens of Sitka, Alaska, and finds them as wacky as ever and even more murderous—a description that applies this time to Cecil as well.

When criminal defense investigators for the Public Defender Agency find themselves in courthouses, it’s not unusual for them to say, “If it please the Court,” as Cecil does in opening his narrative. But his following words—“Your Honors, I stand before you today to tell the story of what happened”—broadly hint from the beginning that he’s in court in a somewhat different capacity than usual. There follows what must surely be the longest, strangest allocution in history or fiction or even in the annals of Straley’s cockeyed investigator (Cold Water Burning, 2001, etc.). Nine months after Melissa Bean, a fellow high school student of Cecil’s daughter, Blossom, goes missing, her body is found, and Sherri Gault is arrested for her murder. The arrest puts Cecil in an awkward situation for several reasons. Sherri has been a repeat client of his; her longtime partner, a lowlife known as Sweeper who’s been an even more frequent client, is eager to sign on as an informant after the latest of his countless arrests; domestic violence charges seem possible for both parties. Things get even worse when Sherri sends Cecil to visit a hotel room she’s stayed in to collect some important evidence, which turns out to be a box stuffed with money. Clearly there’s more going on here than the usual revolving door of low-level felonies, and the current gets both muddier and more urgent when Blossom and her friend Thistle disappear as well, casting Cecil, who’s barely competent as an investigator, as a righteously violent avenger.

A waggish, hallucinatory, blood-soaked demonstration of the maxims collected in the titular Baby’s First Felony, a brief, fully illustrated do-it-yourself manual for stupid criminals that’s helpfully appended after the judges’ verdict on the hero.

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61695-878-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Soho Crime

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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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

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An appealing new heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a memorably nightmarish family make this one of Box’s best.

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The creator of Wyoming Fish and Game Warden Joe Pickett (Wolf Pack, 2019, etc.) launches a new series starring a female private eye who messes with a powerful family and makes everyone involved rue the day.

Cassie Dewell’s been taking a monthly retainer from Bozeman attorney Rachel Mitchell for investigations of one sort and another, but she really doesn’t want to look into the case of Rachel’s newest client. That’s partly because Blake Kleinsasser, the fourth-generation firstborn of a well-established ranching family who moved to New York and made his own bundle before returning back home, comes across as a repellent jerk and partly because all the evidence indicates that he raped Franny Porché, his 15-year-old niece. And there’s plenty of evidence, from a rape kit showing his DNA to a lengthy, plausible statement from Franny. But Cassie owes Rachel, and Rachel tells her she doesn’t have to dig up exculpatory evidence, just follow the trail where it leads so that she can close off every other possibility. So Cassie agrees even though there’s an even more compelling reason not to: The Kleinsassers—Horst II and Margaret and their three other children, John Wayne, Rand, and Cheyenne, Franny’s thrice-divorced mother—are not only toxic, but viperishly dangerous to Blake and now Cassie. Everyone in Lochsa County, from Sheriff Ben Wagy on down, is in their pockets, and everyone Cassie talks to, from the Kleinsassers to the local law, finds new ways to make her life miserable. But Cassie, an ex-cop single mother, isn’t one to back down, especially since she wonders why anyone would take all the trouble to stop an investigation of a case that was as rock-solid as this one’s supposed to be.

An appealing new heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a memorably nightmarish family make this one of Box’s best.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-05105-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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