Pure pop art.



Casino Royale? Why bother with recycled 007 when Devoe (Into the Volcano, not reviewed) serves up the ’60s sexy super-spy stuff with even more nifty retro brio?

Mallory and Morse, the grooviest guy-’n’-gal cloak-’n’-dagger couple since John Steed and Emma Peel, are hot on the trail of a contraband spy satellite. Mainly, though, they’re just hot. Devoe serves up a page-turning plot featuring Grand Prix peel-outs, munitions-crazed scientists and box-jawed Navy SEALs like Billy Harmon, “extensively trained in demolitions, covert comm, penetration, evasion, and martial arts.” But the real kick is the swingin’ 1963 atmospherics—hi-fi’s blaring Montovani, Ferarris flashing class, wines like the “most excellent Cote de Beaune Montrachet.” Into this Ian Fleming–Hugh Hefner candyland plunge M&M and sidekick Billy on a mission to snatch the Archangel, an ultra-WMD first envisioned in one of Hitler’s dreams. The Nazis never perfected the weapon; the Soviets later tried; finally, mad genius Walther Kost delivers the goods. But his masterpiece is stolen by a dastardly arms-trader dubbed “the Dane,” who’s trying to sell the thing for half-a-billion bucks. Working for the Consultancy, a freelance spy shop that farms out agents to the highest bidder, ideology be damned, Mallory and Morse go undercover: he as head of an “international consulting firm specializing in industrial and corporate security and counterespionage,” she as someone who looks good in a bikini. The action moves from Finland to South Africa to Monte Carlo—and we’re treated to the hijinks of a fab cast of characters: the gorgeous seven-foot Milena, a Polish marijuana smoker; twin masseuses Kirsten and Kristen, a sort of R-rated Mary Kate and Ashley; dashing race car drivers; and a Laotian villain called Xiong.

Pure pop art.

Pub Date: March 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-06-072380-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2006

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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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