A meticulously arranged mystery in which technology and classic literature collide.

THE RED-HOODED LEAGUE

From the The Jason Kraft Series series , Vol. 2

This second installment of a series finds a New England prep school rocked by heroin overdoses.

The Moonus Dawkins School is an elite prep school in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Within 10 days, however, two senior students have died of drug overdoses: Mitchel Young, a popular academic ace, and Ron Eastwood, a talented musician and loner. Enter Drug Enforcement Administration agent Jason Kraft, who’s been covertly inserted into Dawkins as a teacher. His class is “Social Media in the Digital Age,” and both deceased students had been attending before his arrival. Helping Kraft is Alondra Espinoza, a vacationing FBI agent—and his fiancee. The probe immediately adopts a surreal flavor when Molly Stark, from the DEA’s media unit, subjects Kraft to an interview aimed at dissecting his current case for the purpose of training new recruits. She insists on knowing the vital details of the inquiry and Kraft’s methodology, which doesn’t sit well with him. Kraft also teams up with David Ellinghood, a local detective, and befriends professor Jim Soulmer. The investigation soon reveals that Mitchel, a dedicated pilot-in-training, would not be able to get his flier’s license, and he and his girlfriend, Hillary Barrymore, had been going through a rough patch. Then, an interview with Mitchel’s roommate, BJ McGee, suggests that the teen may have been murdered. In this literary thriller, Bombard (TobaccoNet, 2015) delivers an ode to the immortal Sherlock Holmes and the 1891 Arthur Conan Doyle short story “The Red-Headed League.” The Mind and Bones secret society, a system of underground tunnels, and the rumors of flight school hazing add touches of New England noir to picturesque Stockbridge. The author also does a superb job of rotating his multifaceted characters in and out of suspicion (the eloquent Soulmer, for example, convinces a drug dealer that he needs “some pure heaven man”). As Kraft delves further into the complex case, he’s reminded that “we were often struggling with competing good and bad influences in life.” Best of all: more suspicious deaths throughout the narrative keep the tension ratcheted high.

A meticulously arranged mystery in which technology and classic literature collide.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5393-2264-1

Page Count: 370

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

OUT OF RANGE

Crime-fighting Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett outdoes himself during a temporary transfer from sleepy Saddlestring to fashionable Jackson Hole.

Will Jensen, the Jackson game warden, was a great guy and a model warden, but once his wife left him six months ago, he spiraled into madness and suicide, and now Joe’s been called to replace him. The transition is anything but smooth. There’s no question of Joe’s family coming with him, so he’s reduced to hoping he can get a signal for the cell-phone calls he squeezes into his busy schedule. En route to his new posting, Joe has to pursue a marauding grizzly. He arrives to meet a formidable series of challenges. Cantankerous outfitter Smoke Van Horn wants to go on attracting elk with illegal salt licks without the new warden’s interference. Animal Liberation Network activist Pi Stevenson wants him to publicize her cause and adopt a vegan diet. Developer Don Ennis wants to open a housing development for millionaires who like their meat free of additives. Ennis’s trophy wife Stella simply wants Joe—and he wants her back. As he wrestles with these demands, and with a supervisor riled over Joe’s track record of destroying government property in pursuit of bad guys (Trophy Hunt, 2004, etc.), Joe slowly becomes convinced that Will did not kill himself.

Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

Pub Date: May 5, 2005

ISBN: 0-399-15291-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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