A sequel may be necessary to ensure public safety.

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ALL THE WRONG PLACES

A serial killer stalks Boston, mostly unnoticed, as four women obsess over their personal crises.

Fielding’s latest seems unsure of its intentions. Breezy chick lit about stolen boyfriends, the search for commitment, and merry widowhood? Or a creepy thriller with a high-tech twist? An exceptionally handsome psychopath finds dating sites a rich lode of all too credulous—and, to him, contemptible—female victims. The novel opens with a scene depicting Mr. Right Now (the killer's dating-site alias) luring a woman back to his bachelor pad for a gourmet dinner only to bind her and perpetrate thankfully nondetailed atrocities before disposing of her body. Cut to three weeks earlier, as four women endure comparatively less fraught ordeals. Paige has caught her boyfriend, Noah, in flagrante delicto with her look-alike cousin, Heather. Laid off from her advertising job, Paige vacates Noah’s apartment to live with her widowed mother, Joan, age 70. Paige’s best friend, Chloe, is taking cautious steps to escape her abusive husband, Matt, but their two children adore him. Heather, by anonymously tattling to Chloe about Matt’s presence on dating sites, has provided Chloe with impetus and ammunition. Heather is the too-obvious scapegoat of this narrative. The spoiled daughter of Paige’s late father’s identical twin, Heather covets everything Paige has (Noah, a job in advertising), but once she's got it, she loses interest. Dipping into online dating, Paige is intrigued by Mr. Right Now’s profile, and predator and potential prey circle each other via text. The main driver of suspense is whether Paige keeps her date with destiny after many cancellations, most occasioned by Joan’s determination to redefine 70 as the new 60. Only one of Mr. Right Now’s victims is discovered during the plot's three-week time frame, but an extensive criminal investigation is, apparently, beyond this book’s purview. All the while, readers will harbor dread that Heather will, yet again, try to steal Paige’s love interest. Because, vain and silly though Heather is, hers is not the comeuppance we crave.

A sequel may be necessary to ensure public safety.

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-18155-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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

THINGS IN JARS

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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