Buckley’s pleasantly old-fashioned fourth is filled with credible suspects and a creeping sense of menace.

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DEATH WAITS IN THE DARK

A novice writer doubles as a clever sleuth.

Lena London’s apprenticeship with famous thriller writer Camilla Graham includes a room at her home in Blue Lake, Indiana; board; and friendship. An unexpected visit from Jane Wyland, a former schoolteacher Camilla hasn’t seen in years, brings the author to tears. When Lena gets Camilla to talk about the encounter, she admits that Jane threatened to disclose an unpleasant secret about her late husband, James, that goes back at least 40 years. The next day, Lena and Camilla go to Jane's house to try to reason with her only to find emergency services on the scene. Their friend police officer Doug Heller tells them Jane was murdered. Camilla would be a suspect but for her perfect alibi: She’s spent every minute since Jane left her house with Lena. The pair get plenty of support from Lena’s boyfriend, Sam West, who knows what it’s like to be accused of murder (A Dark and Twisting Path, 2018, etc.); Cliff Blake, his police officer half brother; and Adam Rayburn, Camilla’s boyfriend, formerly her late husband’s best friend. Camilla plans to read the many letters she received from James while she was still living in England before their marriage in the hope of identifying the weighty secret Jane threatened to reveal. As she and Lena return from talking to a group of James’ high school friends, Lena’s car is run off the road, and she ends up in the hospital with a badly broken arm. Upon her release, the detective duo continue to read the letters and ask questions of survivors from long ago in an effort to discover the secret that’s bad enough to kill for.

Buckley’s pleasantly old-fashioned fourth is filled with credible suspects and a creeping sense of menace.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-451-49191-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Berkley

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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