Dunnett's new heroine has charm and smarts.

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CLAUSE & EFFECT

A retired teacher’s unwanted project leads her to a killer.

Returned from Maine to her childhood home in Lenape Hollow, New York, Mikki Lincoln became a freelance editor to pay for some urgently needed repairs and immediately stumbled into a murder (Crime & Punctuation, 2018, etc.). Now her old friend Darlene Uberman and her frenemy Ronnie North are pushing her to spruce up a play for the town’s quasquibicentennial. The original script was written 25 years ago for the bicentennial by high school teacher Grace Yarrow, who had theatrical ambitions and hasn't been seen in town for years. The town council and the historical society would love to take advantage of an increase in Catskills tourism generated by a new casino and nearby Bethel Woods, the site of Woodstock, now home to a museum and popular concert venue. When Mikki arrives at the historical society to read the only copy of the script, which is badly written and factually incorrect, director Gilbert Baxter refuses to let her take it home. So she returns the next day just in time to join the repairmen working to fix a wall watch it collapse, revealing a semimummified body hidden in a closed-up fireplace. When the body is identified as Grace Yarrow’s, Mikki resolves to help Detective Hazlett despite his warnings of danger. After all, she’s one of the few townsfolk with an alibi, since she was living in Maine when Grace was killed. Rumor has it the teacher spread her favors around pretty freely, from high school boys to married men. Although Mikki wasn’t on hand to watch or listen, many of her friends were, and some had reason to hate Grace. Even while overhauling the play, Mikki finds enough sleuthing time to make her the target of someone who will go to any length, including more murder, to hide past secrets.

Dunnett's new heroine has charm and smarts.

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4967-1257-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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