Although Cutler gets a bit carried away with the number of characters and catastrophes she introduces, Fran and Mark are as...

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GREEN AND PLEASANT LAND

Husband-and-wife sleuths reopen a case that almost everyone else wants to keep closed.

Mark Turner and Fran Harman have recently married and retired from their local police force in Kent. Upon returning from their honeymoon, they realize they miss the intellectual challenge of police work. They agree to be consultants for the West Mercia Police in the case of Natalie Foreman, a football player’s wife who abandoned a badly deformed baby boy in a car and disappeared with her older son in a snowstorm 20 years ago. By the time Fran and Mark arrive, a recent merger of regional police has pushed the high-ranking officer who wanted them for the case out and Assistant Chief Constable Colin Webster in. The handpicked team and the back-room support Fran and Mark were promised turn out to be three very green officers and a couple of computers; the couple even have to provide their own coffeemaker. Furthermore, Webster is annoyingly unhelpful, the files on Natalie and her son are surprisingly thin, her parents are disturbingly unresponsive, and the original members of the search are mostly retired. The general belief seems to be that Natalie and her son died in the snowstorm. As Mark tells Fran, “You almost feel that it’s not just the locals who don’t want us to investigate properly—it’s the whole environment.” As unexpected rain and overflowing riverbanks turn neighborhoods into islands, floodwaters drive Fran and Mark from two different residences. But the more adversity Fran and Mark face, the more determined they are to find out what really happened to Natalie and her sons.

Although Cutler gets a bit carried away with the number of characters and catastrophes she introduces, Fran and Mark are as likable and capable as they were in their last adventure (Double Fault, 2014).

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7278-8465-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 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.

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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