There’s a ton of filler but too few chills in this by-the-numbers thriller.

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SAY YOU'RE SORRY

After escaping an attacker, a young woman teams up with a sexy FBI agent to bring him down in this series opener.

When Sacramento radio personality Daisy Dawson is pulled into an alleyway by a gunman in disguise, she manages to escape, but not before pulling a locket off his neck. The locket is distinctive and draws the attention of FBI Special Agent and linguist Gideon Reynolds. Gideon recognizes the design, and to his horror, he knows the girl whose picture is inside the locket. Turns out that Gideon was a member of The Church of Second Eden until the age of 13, when he escaped after killing one of the leaders in self-defense. He’s told most of his story (minus the killing) to his boss and has repeatedly tried to get the FBI to reopen his case, but the group moved soon after he escaped and hasn’t turned up since. Until now. Sparks immediately fly between Daisy and Gideon, and Gideon isn’t too upset to find out he’ll need to be her bodyguard until they can neutralize her attacker. Daisy also proves to be a big help in tracking down other surviving members of the cult. Unfortunately, Daisy’s attacker, who fancies himself a master of disguise, hasn’t given up on her yet, and he has a basement dungeon waiting just for her, as detailed in lurid passages in which Rose attempts to fashion a background explaining the origins of the man's bloody proclivities. Unfortunately, he never really rises above serial killer central casting and at times devolves into caricature. Refreshingly, however, Daisy isn’t set dressing, and she’s no wilting flower: She’s trained in self-defense, offers plenty of help during the investigation, and is a genuinely kind human being. Additionally, Daisy and Gideon’s romance, while quick in developing, still evolves naturally, and Rose gets kudos for emphasizing safe sex. However, it’s made clear early on that Daisy is in AA, but her alcoholism doesn’t seem to serve any other function but to make her more sympathetic, and her background, with its many, many convolutions, will stretch reader credulity. It’s too bad that two such likable characters are dropped into the middle of such a ho-hum story.

There’s a ton of filler but too few chills in this by-the-numbers thriller.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-58672-9

Page Count: 624

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 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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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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