Mean girls, stalkers, and a jealous brother are all fair game as suspects in this clever and amusing mystery.


A rehearsal dinner goes badly awry when the groom is not only absent, but dead.

Athena Spencer left a bad marriage to return to the bosom of her large Greek family. She works at their garden center and helps out in the family restaurant along with her three sisters, Delphi, Maia, and Selene. Wealthy Mandy Black, who’s about to marry personal trainer Brady Rogers, is waiting for him at the restaurant, where they've booked their rehearsal dinner. After he doesn’t show up, his friends find him stabbed with a pair of scissors Selene uses at the hair salon where she works. Selene had reported Brady when he hit on her at the gym, but when Mandy accuses her of having had an affair with Brady, she becomes the prime suspect. Although the bridal party was visiting the salon when the scissors vanished, the evidence piling up against Selene forces Athena to investigate. At the same time, Athena’s working out relationship problems with handsome, astute Case Donnelly, whom she saved from a murder rap in her debut, Statue of Limitations (2020). Although Case has recently moved to Michigan, Athena, who has trust issues, isn't sure if that was for her or for some other reason. But she’s glad he’s willing to pitch in to help her save Selene. Now they just have to find someone who was fed up with Brady’s playboy habits.

Mean girls, stalkers, and a jealous brother are all fair game as suspects in this clever and amusing mystery.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4967-2435-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


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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Teems with as many details as the phone book and not much more engaging. Less breadth, more depth, please.


Cybersecurity expert Ali Reynolds has to stand aside for an army of other sleuths across several states to thwart the murderous plans of a recently paroled criminal out for revenge.

Even if you don’t count his abusive treatment of Danielle Lomax-Reardon, his lover, former Pasadena cop Frank Muñoz began his crime spree even before being released from the Lompoc Federal Correctional Complex, where he'd been confined since he confessed to tipping off the powers behind a money-laundering club that they were about to be raided. Funded by the shadowy figures who’d promised him $500,000 if he did his time without naming names, and working with well-connected Lompoc lifer Salvatore Moroni, he’d arranged hits on Danielle and Jack Littleton, one of two fellow Pasadena cops who’d agreed to testify against him. Once he’s out, he relocates to Las Vegas with plans to hire lowlifes to kill Hal Holden, the other cop, who’s now retired and running a shuttle service, and Sylvia Rogers, the wife who’d divorced Frank, remarried, and moved outside Portland to be with her more loving second husband. When the men hired to kill Holden crash into his car, he’s carrying B. Simpson, Ali’s husband and partner in High Noon Enterprises, leaving both men critically injured but not dead and drawing Ali into a case that eventually attracts official scrutiny from Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Minnesota, leading to “a jurisdictional free-for-all.” As Jance multiplies subplots and characters, introducing new backstories as late as Chapter 65, her reliance on High Noon’s all-but-sensate AI helper, Frigg, seems to edge her ever closer to the futuristic world of J.D. Robb.

Teems with as many details as the phone book and not much more engaging. Less breadth, more depth, please.

Pub Date: March 14, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-982189-15-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2023

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