Fans of this brilliant series will not be disappointed by the murder mystery or the big reveal of its heroine's motivation...

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BONE ON BONE

A woman determined to atone and make a difference returns to her drug-plagued hometown.

Bell Elkins was born poor in Acker’s Gap, West Virginia, and her life has been through many phases (Fast Falls the Night, 2017, etc.). She married, became a lawyer and a mother and led a life of wealth, then divorced and returned home as a tough and determined prosecuting attorney. The revelation that her sister, Shirley, had terminal cancer, and moreover that she had spent years in prison for killing their abusive father while knowing that 10-year-old Bell was guilty of the crime, even if young Bell didn't realize it herself, sent Bell’s life into a tailspin. None of her family and friends can fathom why Bell insisted on serving her own prison term for her father’s murder when the powers that be would have been happy with a slap on the wrist considering all the mitigating circumstances. Now Bell is back in town trying to decide what to do with her life as she is no longer a lawyer. With the whole state ravaged by opioids, her first thought is to work to hold drug companies morally if not legally responsible, but then she becomes involved in the town's latest drug-related murder. Banker Brett Topping and his wife, Ellie, are at their wits' end trying to save their addicted son, Tyler. Rehab has failed numerous times, and now he's home and stealing their possessions to feed his habit. Ellie is so desperate that she's decided to kill Tyler, but before she can get up the nerve, her husband is shot dead in their driveway. Both Ellie and Tyler have alibis, and Tyler insists it was Deke Foley, the dealer he worked for, whom Brett had threatened to turn in to the police along with "dates, times, places, license plate numbers." The sheriff and prosecutor, desperately short-handed, hire both Bell and a paralyzed former deputy to help with this latest case. Old friends pitch in, and nasty secrets are revealed, but the big question is still why Bell insisted on going to prison.

Fans of this brilliant series will not be disappointed by the murder mystery or the big reveal of its heroine's motivation for trashing her life.

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-19092-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 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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Child builds tension to unbearable extremes, then blows it out in sharply choreographed violence, even if his plot has more...

ECHO BURNING

From the Jack Reacher series , Vol. 5

Smashingly suspenseful fifth in Child’s series (Running Blind, 2000, etc.) lands this British author’s rootless, laconic action hero in southwest Texas, where a femme fatale lures him into a family squabble that inevitably turns violent.

In the kind of daylight-noir setting that Jim Thompson loved, ex-military cop Jack Reacher has his thumb out on a lonely west Texas highway when he’s picked up by Carmine Greer, the Mexican-American wife of bad-ol’-boy Sloop Greer. It seems that Sloop, elder son of a white-trash-turned-oil-rich ranching dynasty, is nearing the end of a prison term for tax evasion, and Carmine, whose body Reacher sees is marked with signs of physical abuse, wants Reacher to be her bodyguard—or, failing that, kill the man in such a way that Carmine can still hold on to her terminally cute six-year-old daughter Ellie. Reacher refuses but decides to meet the folks: Rusty, Sloop’s racist, charmless mother, and Bobby, Sloop’s stupid, pugnacious brother. Meanwhile, a trio of paid assassins is littering the Texas roadside with corpses, starting with Sloop’s lawyer, Al Eugene. In a set-piece as good as anything in Elmore Leonard, Bobby sends two ranch-hands to ambush Reacher at an Abilene roadhouse filled with 20 other cowboys spoiling for a fight. Reacher walks away without a scratch, telling Bobby that his hospitalized ranch-hands have “quit.” Child twists his increasingly hokey plot into a pretzel when Sloop is found dead and Carmine confesses to killing him. Reacher just can’t believe that Carmine is guilty and teams up with Alice Aarons, a leggy Jewish lesbian fresh out of law school, who trusts him with her car, her handgun, and her life.

Child builds tension to unbearable extremes, then blows it out in sharply choreographed violence, even if his plot has more holes in it than the shirt Reacher uses for target practice.

Pub Date: July 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-14726-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2001

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