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

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

BADLANDS

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 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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