The villain's identity will be obvious to some, but Mitchell's busy mix of gruesome horror, romantic pratfalls, and eerie...


The goriest and funniest outing yet in a superior police procedural series involving Bureau of Indian Affairs investigator Emmet Parker and FBI Agent Anna Turpinseed (Spirit Sickness, 2000, etc.).

Cursed are those who disturb the bones found when a spillway near the dammed John Day River in Oregon is flooded to help migrating salmon swim upstream. Uncovered by a rogue fossil-collector on land belonging to three Indian tribes, the remains are claimed immediately by tribal groups. Meanwhile, Parker and Turpinseed have yet to consummate their mutual passion, frustrated by neurotic fears that burden Turpinseed as a result of childhood sexual abuse. A psychiatrist advises them to try expressing their love-lust in public places, such as a roller coaster in a Las Vegas casino. Throughout, then, the running joke is that each time things steam up, the pair must answer the call of duty. What could have been an easy assignment, to officiate at the pro forma autopsy by loquacious anthropologist Thaddeus Rankin, becomes complicated when Rankin identifies the remains as belonging to a “Caucasoid” male who was murdered and cannibalized 14,600 years ago. Into this complicated situation steps Nels Sward, an unsettling adherent of ancient Norse pagan religion whose wife is having an affair with Indian shaman and sometime rodeo performer Tennyson Paulina. Sward is squabbling with tribal authorities over rights to rebury the body when one of the autopsy's witnesses mysteriously vanishes. Then the disemboweled body of the fossil collector is found gutted and roasting over coals. Mitchell piles up corpses and controversies as his characters wrestle with contradictions in Native American morality and racial origin, especially after Parker and Turpinseed begin to suspect that the old bones in question might be much younger than they seem.

The villain's identity will be obvious to some, but Mitchell's busy mix of gruesome horror, romantic pratfalls, and eerie mysticism keeps the suspense uniformly high.

Pub Date: May 8, 2001

ISBN: 0-553-10914-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2001

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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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