The partnership of secretive, pensive Peralta and anguished, impetuous Mapstone (South Phoenix Rules, 2010, etc.) is...



Would a pretty ex-hooker strip herself naked, handcuff herself, then vault over a married john’s 19th-floor balcony and willingly kill herself?

Grace Hunter—Scarlett to her clients—listed her 60-plus rich and powerful lovers’ addresses, cells, social security numbers and, when available, net worth on an encoded flash drive and tucked it away when she gave up the game in favor of pregnancy and marriage to an old beau, sweet but slightly nerdy Tim. Then she left her baby at home, disrobed, manacled her hands behind her and leapt to her death from a former client’s trendy apartment. Suicide or murder? The cops opt for the former, but Felix Smith appears on the doorstep of a pair of private eyes and wants them to investigate. Before Smith’s car even pulls out of their parking lot, he’s riddled with bullets from an AK-47, leaving former sheriff Mike Peralta and his guilt-ridden sidekick, former history professor/deputy sheriff David Mapstone, with a dead client on their hands and a $5,000 retainer to be earned. Off they head to San Diego, where Phoenix philanderers stash their mistresses. Mapstone interviews Tim, who also wants the ex-lawmen to find out what caused Grace to leave him and their baby. Like their first client, Tim is quickly dispatched, his fingers broken, his throat slit, a Claymore mine sitting in his lap. The private eyes are tailed, shot at, lied to. They call in their exes, Sharon and Lindsey, for psychological and tech support and some midday canoodling. They reconnect with a Vietnam vet and munitions expert pal of Peralta’s. They learn about white supremacy groups working out of desert strongholds. After threats, beatings, shootings and more lovemaking, they live to fight another day.

The partnership of secretive, pensive Peralta and anguished, impetuous Mapstone (South Phoenix Rules, 2010, etc.) is intriguing, their love lives less so. But NRA aficionados will go nuts.

Pub Date: May 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4642-0132-5

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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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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Creepy, violent, and propulsive; a standout gothic mystery.


Lady detective Bridie Devine searches for a missing child and finds much more than she bargained for.

Bridie Devine is no stranger to the seedy underworld of Victorian London. An accomplished detective with medical training, she sometimes helps the police by examining bodies to determine the cause of death. Bridie recently failed to find a lost child, and when she’s approached about another missing child, the daughter of Sir Edmund Berwick, she isn’t enthusiastic about taking on the case. But Christabel Berwick is no ordinary child. Sir Edmund has hidden Christabel away her whole life and wants Bridie to believe this is an ordinary kidnapping. Bridie does a little digging and learns that Christabel isn’t his daughter so much as his prized specimen. Sir Edmund believes Christabel is a “merrow,” a darker and less romanticized version of a mermaid. Bridie is skeptical, but there are reports of Christabel’s sharp teeth, color-changing eyes, and ability to drown people on dry land. Given that Bridie’s new companion is a ghost who refuses to tell her why he’s haunting her, Bridie might want to open her mind a bit. There’s a lot going on in this singular novel, and none of it pretty. Bridie’s London is soaked with mud and blood, and her past is nightmarish at best. Kidd (Mr. Flood’s Last Resort, 2018, etc.) is an expert at setting a supernatural mood perfect for ghosts and merrows, but her human villains make them seem mundane by comparison. With so much detail and so many clever, Dickensian characters, readers might petition Kidd to give Bridie her own series.

Creepy, violent, and propulsive; a standout gothic mystery.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-2128-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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