This time, Fielding seems to be phoning in the thrills.


A toddler disappears from a Mexican hotel room, deepening the fissures in an already fractured family.

On an anniversary trip to Mexico, San Diego couple Caroline and Hunter make a fateful decision to leave their two daughters in their resort hotel room while they have dinner with friends in the courtyard below. They take turns checking on Michelle, 5, and Samantha, 2, every 30 minutes, but sometime in the half hour before their return, Samantha goes missing from her crib. The police and the media blame the couple, particularly Caroline, since her demeanor at a press conference is too aloof. (It’s just that shock becomes her.) Over the next 15 years, Hunter, a high-powered lawyer, seeks refuge with other, successively younger women, and reporters continue to hound Caroline on every anniversary of the disappearance. After a rocky adolescence, Michelle is now a young adult with a drinking problem due to her lifelong resentment of all the attention her younger sibling, though absent, still commands. Caroline’s brother, Steve, who was the favored sibling in her own family, and her hypercritical mother, Mary, add to the complexity of Caroline’s life as a divorcée  struggling to hold on to her latest high school teaching job. (Principals have a tendency to fire her as soon as they learn of her past.) Into this morass walks Lili, a Canadian teen who believes she's Samantha—though only Mary is convinced there's a resemblance. Compounding this uncertainty is the fact that Hunter lied to the police: he was actually committing adultery when he was supposed to be checking on the children. As the family awaits a DNA test, the suspense mounts, but not as quickly as our disbelief due to several inconsistencies and improbabilities.

This time, Fielding seems to be phoning in the thrills.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-96687-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 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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Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.


Crime-fighting Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett outdoes himself during a temporary transfer from sleepy Saddlestring to fashionable Jackson Hole.

Will Jensen, the Jackson game warden, was a great guy and a model warden, but once his wife left him six months ago, he spiraled into madness and suicide, and now Joe’s been called to replace him. The transition is anything but smooth. There’s no question of Joe’s family coming with him, so he’s reduced to hoping he can get a signal for the cell-phone calls he squeezes into his busy schedule. En route to his new posting, Joe has to pursue a marauding grizzly. He arrives to meet a formidable series of challenges. Cantankerous outfitter Smoke Van Horn wants to go on attracting elk with illegal salt licks without the new warden’s interference. Animal Liberation Network activist Pi Stevenson wants him to publicize her cause and adopt a vegan diet. Developer Don Ennis wants to open a housing development for millionaires who like their meat free of additives. Ennis’s trophy wife Stella simply wants Joe—and he wants her back. As he wrestles with these demands, and with a supervisor riled over Joe’s track record of destroying government property in pursuit of bad guys (Trophy Hunt, 2004, etc.), Joe slowly becomes convinced that Will did not kill himself.

Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

Pub Date: May 5, 2005

ISBN: 0-399-15291-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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