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Murder stalks a go-getting San Francisco lawyer who just wants to be left alone so he can have it all. From the moment Mark Dooher first catches sight of law student Christina Carrera, he's convinced that he's got to have her. There are obstacles, of course: His old friend and colleague Wes Farrell disapproves; Christina's boyfriend works for Mark's own firm; and neither Mark's wife Sheila nor his principal employer, the Archdiocese of San Francisco, would care for the idea if Mark ever brought it up. Instead, he finagles Christina into the firm and promotes her boyfriend to oblivion in L.A., pooh-poohs Wes's objections, and keeps Sheila and the Archbishop in the dark. Everything goes fine until a pesky lawyer who's threatened to attach the Archbishop's name to a scandalous lawsuit gets stabbed to death shortly after turning down the hefty settlement Mark had been authorized to offer, and Sgt. Abe Glitsky fastens on Mark as the killer. Despite Glitsky's certainty, there's no physical evidence linking Mark to the murder, and the weight of the Archdiocese is able to keep the case from going to trial. Glitsky does arrest Mark two months later, however, when Sheila dies in an apparent robbery attempt. The sides are clear-cut: Christina, who joins Wes at the defense table at Mark's request, is absolutely certain Mark couldn't have done it; Glitsky is equally certain that he did (but then he's maddened with grief over the agonizing death of his wife). It'll all come out in court, right? Not exactly—because as the title indicates, the usually reliable Lescroart (A Certain Justice, 1995, etc.) wants to explore the dissonance between legal and actual guilt. The exploration, though, is surprisingly ham-handed and overextended, mainly because the author himself can't quite decide how guilty to make his protagonist look, and the richly promising gallery of characters has nothing to do but wait for a shrilly melodramatic finale. ($125,000 ad/promo; author tour)

Pub Date: June 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-385-31655-0

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1997

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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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...

Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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