In this heartfelt tale of labor and love, Ernst (Mining for Justice, 2017, etc.) produces one of her most winning...

THE LACEMAKER'S SECRET

Lace is the fabric that holds together past and present.

Both police officer Roelke McKenna and his girlfriend, Chloe Ellefson, curator of collections at Old World Wisconsin, have something on their minds. Roelke can’t get over the guilt he feels for planting evidence on his cousin’s dangerous ex-husband; Chloe has just heard that her mother, who’s fiercely proud of her Norwegian heritage, may have been adopted and is perhaps not Norwegian at all. So it’s a welcome distraction when Chloe is booked to work on a project in Door County, Wisconsin, where her old friend Elise O’Rourke, an expert on Belgian lace, has arranged for their visits to coincide. Just before she arrives at the Belgian Acres B&B, Chloe spots a bake oven at a derelict farm. When she takes a closer look, she finds a body stuffed in the oven. Her hostess, Sharon Bertrand—a descendant of the Lejeunes, one of the first Belgian families to settle the area—is a relative of the dead man, who owned the farm. Alternating chapters unfold the fascinating history of the family of talented lacemaker Seraphine Moreau Lejeune, from her decision to marry her sweetheart and set off to wilderness Wisconsin, where the family’s struggles to survive force her to give up her dream of lacemaking, to the end of World War I, when another dream comes true. Chloe quickly becomes immersed in her work at the Heritage Hill living history site, which is adding a Belgian farm. But she’s surprised and dismayed by Elise’s lack of interest in spending time with her. Elise, who’s determined to find samples of old lace, has learned that a particular rare and valuable piece may still be in the area. Elise goes missing, Chloe is kidnapped, and another man is murdered before Chloe can figure out the motive for the unknown killer.

In this heartfelt tale of labor and love, Ernst (Mining for Justice, 2017, etc.) produces one of her most winning combinations of historical evocation and clever mystery.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7387-5354-6

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Midnight Ink/Llewellyn

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

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THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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