A quick, fun read with engaging rodeo scenes.

GIRL WITH A GUN

AN ANNIE OAKLEY MYSTERY

Murder and mayhem strike Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in St. Louis right after Annie Oakley and her horse, Buck, join the entourage.

It’s 1885, and 15-year-old Annie Mosey is an instant sensation during a competition in Greenville, Ohio, with the famous sharpshooter Frank Butler. Watching the performance are “Buffalo Bill” Cody, aka “the Colonel,” and Sioux Chief Sitting Bull, who entice Annie to join the Colonel’s Wild West Show, which is on its way to the city for a four-week engagement. They change her last name to Oakley, and Sitting Bull calls her “Watanya Cecilia” (“Little Miss Sure Shot”). It’s all quite overwhelming for the Quaker girl, who’s been supporting her mother and two younger siblings with her hunting prowess. Annie shares a tent with Kimimela (nicknamed “Kimi”), a young Sioux girl, and her infant daughter, and they quickly bond. But there are enemies lurking: the Colonel’s mistress, a Roma woman named Twila Midnight, who’s been hostile from the start, and a new addition to the show, sharpshooter Lillian “Lillie” Smith, who’s Twila’s adopted sister. One night, Annie returns to her tent after a dinner celebration and discovers Kimi’s dead body. Although Kimi is only 14, the local coroner rules it a death by natural causes. Annie is convinced that Kimi has been murdered, but what could be the motive? Bovée’s debut novel brings readers solidly into the heyday of the Wild West shows, providing wonderful details about the elaborate costumes and the characters’ remarkable marksmanship: Frank shoots a playing card out of Annie’s hand, and she shoots a cigarette out of his mouth. The love-hate relationship between Annie and Frank is based on historical fact, although the timetable for some of the events here is altered for dramatic effect. The mystery, too, is a product of Bovée’s imagination; Kimi’s murder is only the first to hit the show. There are enough entertaining elements to keep readers guessing, including romance, rivalries, jealousy, and at least one evil character from Annie’s past. The prose has a charming simplicity, which keeps the attention focused on the action and the well-developed protagonist.

A quick, fun read with engaging rodeo scenes.

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-943006-60-1

Page Count: 329

Publisher: SparkPress

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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