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Despite its epic length, Higashino keeps his world remarkably claustrophobic, scattering just enough references to movies,...

Higashino leaves behind the increasingly weighty cases of Detective Galileo (A Midsummer’s Equation, 2016, etc.) for an even more daunting stand-alone that traces the fallout of an unsolved murder through nearly two decades.

Yosuke Kirihara is found in an abandoned building a kilometer away from the Osaka home that doubled as his pawnshop, stabbed five times. His wife, Yaeko, would be the obvious suspect even if she weren’t a former escort a generation younger than her husband, but Detective Junzo Sasagaki can find no evidence against her. He focuses instead on Fumiyo Nishimoto, a customer whose home in Yoshida Heights Kirihara had visited shortly before his death, but Fumiyo provides an alibi—though Tadao Terasaki, the lover who provides it, is killed in a car crash—and the case fades away. So, for quite a while, does Sasagaki; instead, Higashino follows the lives of two children involved in the case, Kirihara’s 10-year-old son, Ryo, and his customer’s young daughter, Yukiho. As they make their ways through adolescence and into adulthood, corruption begins slowly and steadily to take its toll on Ryo and Yukiho. He drifts into a life of pimping his male school friends and stealing computer-game software before it can be copyrighted; she’s adopted by elegant Reiko Karasawa when her mother dies and, blossoming into fatal beauty, drifts through a series of fraught friendships and romances, one of which ends in an equally fraught marriage. All the while, Sasagaki, his efforts supplemented by those of private investigator Satoshi Imaeda, keeps an unobtrusive eye on the two surviving children, preparing to close the case, though many readers will long since have anticipated his unsparing climactic revelations.

Despite its epic length, Higashino keeps his world remarkably claustrophobic, scattering just enough references to movies, current events, and first-generation home computers to let you know where the lead characters, aging but powerless to change, stand as the story rolls toward its bleakly preordained end.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-10579-0

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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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. 22, 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...

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 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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