Backlund's kick-ass heroine is just the person to clear up her own mistakes if she can only stay ahead of a dangerous...

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DOWN THE BROKEN ROAD

A former cop adjusts to a new career while guilt from her past hangs on.

Rachel Carver left her job as a star homicide detective with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation when she was forced to kill a murder suspect she now believes to have been innocent. Her freelance work includes helping Danny Braddock, her former partner from the Raleigh Police Department, where she worked before the SBI, solve a complicated case (Among the Dead, 2017). While she waits to see if she’s landed a job as an investigator for a Raleigh law firm, she gets a game-changing call. Reporter Bryce Parker, who appears to have overdosed on heroin, has asked for Rachel. When she gets to the hospital, he tells her, "You were right. I knew all along...you were right," before falling fast asleep. Suddenly the law firm wants to know whether she’s willing to take another look at the case of drugs and Afghanistan veterans that caused her so much pain at the SBI. Although a man named Kyle Strickland has been arrested for killing another of the vets involved, the firm has an unnamed client who believes Strickland is innocent and thinks his case is related to Rachel’s former case. When Parker, the reporter, gets out of the hospital, he and Ramirez, the cop who found him overdosing in the ditch to which someone apparently dragged him, tell Rachel that Parker’s found a witness to the original murder, a young boy too scared to talk. Before they even leave Ramirez’s house, they’re attacked by a very large man who kills Parker and Ramirez with Rachel's gun, knocks Rachel out, and leaves her in her car with "the murder weapon in her lap." Rachel is in deep trouble now, and Danny Braddock is the only one she trusts to help. Refusing to surrender until she works the case herself, she gets a friend who’s a crime scene tech to collect all the evidence from her car, clothes, and body while she goes on a wild, dangerous hunt to find the killer as she evades her former colleagues.

Backlund's kick-ass heroine is just the person to clear up her own mistakes if she can only stay ahead of a dangerous conspiracy.

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68331-740-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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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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An appealing new heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a memorably nightmarish family make this one of Box’s best.

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THE BITTERROOTS

The creator of Wyoming Fish and Game Warden Joe Pickett (Wolf Pack, 2019, etc.) launches a new series starring a female private eye who messes with a powerful family and makes everyone involved rue the day.

Cassie Dewell’s been taking a monthly retainer from Bozeman attorney Rachel Mitchell for investigations of one sort and another, but she really doesn’t want to look into the case of Rachel’s newest client. That’s partly because Blake Kleinsasser, the fourth-generation firstborn of a well-established ranching family who moved to New York and made his own bundle before returning back home, comes across as a repellent jerk and partly because all the evidence indicates that he raped Franny Porché, his 15-year-old niece. And there’s plenty of evidence, from a rape kit showing his DNA to a lengthy, plausible statement from Franny. But Cassie owes Rachel, and Rachel tells her she doesn’t have to dig up exculpatory evidence, just follow the trail where it leads so that she can close off every other possibility. So Cassie agrees even though there’s an even more compelling reason not to: The Kleinsassers—Horst II and Margaret and their three other children, John Wayne, Rand, and Cheyenne, Franny’s thrice-divorced mother—are not only toxic, but viperishly dangerous to Blake and now Cassie. Everyone in Lochsa County, from Sheriff Ben Wagy on down, is in their pockets, and everyone Cassie talks to, from the Kleinsassers to the local law, finds new ways to make her life miserable. But Cassie, an ex-cop single mother, isn’t one to back down, especially since she wonders why anyone would take all the trouble to stop an investigation of a case that was as rock-solid as this one’s supposed to be.

An appealing new heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a memorably nightmarish family make this one of Box’s best.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-05105-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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