A beautifully written postmodern novel of deduction that merrily, wittily blows up its genre’s conventions while at the same...



Three things to keep in mind about this book: Travel is far more enriching than arrival, detectives are essentially professional critics, and always be very careful when you decide to quit smoking.

Trident “Trike” Augustine is a very American, excruciatingly dysfunctional variant of the “consulting investigator” who’s been outsmarting criminals and out-thinking authority figures since the Victorian era. Yet even though this hip, dissolute Sherlock has managed to put away whole armies of fiends, thieves, psychos and grifters, Trike’s teeming brain has hit an immobilizing speed bump: the disappearance of a reclusive billionaire named Joyce. The only substantial clues are a large pool of blood and a secret compartment within Joyce’s mansion that the feds unaccountably seal off from further scrutiny by either Trike or the local cops. (By the way, it’s not clear, or particularly important, what city this is, though Cook, a first-time novelist, sells books in the Greater Boston region.) Trike can’t help but use such impediments as an excuse for pressing his inquiry. But the deeper he looks, the more confounded he becomes. There is, for instance, the matter of the dead pig that somehow shows up on Trike’s apartment floor in the dark of night, doing nothing but bleeding on his rug. The best, if tentative, conclusion that Trike and his two Watsons, a sassy painter named Lola and a circumspect ex-FBI agent named Max, can reach about the pig is that it’s one of several crass warnings to stay off the Joyce case. Which, this being a detective story, has the opposite effect on Trike. But the only thing that becomes clear about the novel's plot is that it’s somewhat less and considerably more than an average detective story. Rather, it’s a sustained inquiry into the nature of detecting itself—and into the process of writing. Keep in mind the millionaire’s name and the book’s quicksilver references to Ulysses—and to Edgar Allan Poe’s genre-defining mystery tale “The Purloined Letter.” Such literary gamesmanship may exasperate the traditional mystery lover, but the writing throughout is so crystalline, the dialogue so acerbically funny and the characters so engaging as to make the pages seem as though they’re turning themselves.

A beautifully written postmodern novel of deduction that merrily, wittily blows up its genre’s conventions while at the same time re-energizing possibilities for the 21st-century detective story.

Pub Date: March 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61219-427-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Melville House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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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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