It’s hard to think of any writer since Flannery O’Connor, referenced at several key moments here, who’s succeeded as...

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THE GOOD DAUGHTER

Slaughter’s latest break from the punishing travails of Dr. Sara Linton and Will Trent (The Kept Woman, 2016, etc.) uses a school shooting to reunite two sisters who’ve had compelling reasons for avoiding each other in the years since their own childhood horrors.

Twenty-eight years ago, two masked men broke into attorney Rusty Quinn’s Georgia home looking for the man of the house, the kind of lawyer who gives lawyers a bad name. In Rusty’s absence, things went south instantly, leaving Gamma Quinn dead, her daughter Samantha shot in the head and buried alive, and her daughter Charlotte fleeing in terror. Sam somehow survived and rose above her brain damage to become a successful New York patent attorney; Charlie remained in Pikeville, joined the criminal defense bar, and married ADA Ben Bernard. But she and Ben have separated; she’s taken solace in some quick sex with a stranger in a parking lot; and when she goes to the middle school where her one-night stand works as a history teacher to pick up the cellphone she left behind, she walks into the middle of a shooting that brings back all her own trauma. Goth girl Kelly Wilson admits she shot and killed Douglas Pinkman, the school principal, and 8-year-old Lucy Alexander, but Rusty, whose inbox is already overflowing with hate mail provoked by all the lowlifes he’s defended, is determined to serve as her attorney, with Sam as a most unlikely second chair. In addition to the multilayered conflicts among the Quinns and everyone else in town, Sam, who urged her sister to flee their childhood nightmare, and Charlie, who’s had to live with fleeing ever since, will have to deal with memories that make it hard for them to sit in the same room.

It’s hard to think of any writer since Flannery O’Connor, referenced at several key moments here, who’s succeeded as consistently as Slaughter at using horrific violence to evoke pity and terror. Whether she’s extending her franchise or creating stand-alones like this, she really does make your hair stand on end.

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-243024-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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An appealing new heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a memorably nightmarish family make this one of Box’s best.

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THE BITTERROOTS

The creator of Wyoming Fish and Game Warden Joe Pickett (Wolf Pack, 2019, etc.) launches a new series starring a female private eye who messes with a powerful family and makes everyone involved rue the day.

Cassie Dewell’s been taking a monthly retainer from Bozeman attorney Rachel Mitchell for investigations of one sort and another, but she really doesn’t want to look into the case of Rachel’s newest client. That’s partly because Blake Kleinsasser, the fourth-generation firstborn of a well-established ranching family who moved to New York and made his own bundle before returning back home, comes across as a repellent jerk and partly because all the evidence indicates that he raped Franny Porché, his 15-year-old niece. And there’s plenty of evidence, from a rape kit showing his DNA to a lengthy, plausible statement from Franny. But Cassie owes Rachel, and Rachel tells her she doesn’t have to dig up exculpatory evidence, just follow the trail where it leads so that she can close off every other possibility. So Cassie agrees even though there’s an even more compelling reason not to: The Kleinsassers—Horst II and Margaret and their three other children, John Wayne, Rand, and Cheyenne, Franny’s thrice-divorced mother—are not only toxic, but viperishly dangerous to Blake and now Cassie. Everyone in Lochsa County, from Sheriff Ben Wagy on down, is in their pockets, and everyone Cassie talks to, from the Kleinsassers to the local law, finds new ways to make her life miserable. But Cassie, an ex-cop single mother, isn’t one to back down, especially since she wonders why anyone would take all the trouble to stop an investigation of a case that was as rock-solid as this one’s supposed to be.

An appealing new heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a memorably nightmarish family make this one of Box’s best.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-05105-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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