An engaging, suspenseful novel that combines an intriguing murder mystery with heaps of historical information.

Exquisite Folly

A riveting mystery set in New York City in 1765 on the eve of the Stamp Act.

Thomas Dordrecht, a young, aspiring businessman, returns home to New York after a two-year journey through Europe. He almost immediately bumps into old friend Marinus Willett, who talks about the impending Stamp Act enactment, which would tax Colonial residents for any piece of printed paper they use, and the unrest it has caused. Willett also tells him about a group of anti-Royalists, including himself, who have banded together under the name “the Sons of Liberty” in order to dispute the tax. As Willett and other Sons of Liberty attempt to convince Dordrecht to join their ranks, he’s also trying to find steady employment. Just as he lands himself what he believes to be a lucrative, if short-term, shipping gig, a young woman, Theodora Colegrove, approaches him and offers to hire him to help her solve the mystery of the recent murder of her 18-year-old stepmother, Artemis Colegrove, found stabbed to death near a handwritten note featuring the slogan of the Sons of Liberty. Because he has some experience solving mysteries, Dordrecht accepts the job and delves into the fascinating, sometimes off-putting, and quite chaotic world of the wealthy, prominent Colegrove family. He also witnesses the mounting tensions between those who support the British government and those who resent it. Carriel’s (If Two Are Dead, 2012, etc.) novel delivers a suspenseful mystery with plenty of twists and turns to keep readers engaged until the truth about the murder is revealed. It has a bounty of vivid characters, from Calpurnia, the Colegroves’ slave, to Dordrecht himself, who’s at the center of this and other, previous historical mysteries. Finally, Carriel does an excellent job of using old-fashioned language to paint a colorful picture of Colonial life during the 18th century. For example, when Dordrecht’s older cousin Charles comments on his still being unmarried, Dordrecht thinks, “Be damned if I need yet another relative interfering in my private affairs! My mother, sisters, aunts—all have been writing in a panic to see me married and encumbered with children….And now this libertine capon—how I wish he’d at least get a new wig!”

An engaging, suspenseful novel that combines an intriguing murder mystery with heaps of historical information.

Pub Date: May 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4917-6482-4

Page Count: 316

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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

BADLANDS

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 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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