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

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 17, 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.

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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...

Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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