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ONCE YOU GO THIS FAR

The latest case for this hard-nosed desperado of an investigator reads a lot like the case before.

Looking into the death of a woman tied to a cultish new church leads an investigator to wonder if the murder is connected to something closer to home.

Her background as a cop’s daughter has left Columbus PI Roxane Weary always on alert. When fellow hiker—well, walker, really—Rebecca Newsome dies in a local park, Roxane isn’t sure whether she fell or was pushed into the ravine where her body was found. Rebecca’s daughter, Maggie, certain that it’s the latter, hires Roxane to investigate with a view toward proving that Rebecca’s second ex-husband, Keir Metcalf, killed her, as Maggie’s certain he did. As Roxane digs into Rebecca’s background, she links the family to a church that seems more like a cult, complete with a charismatic leader whose background may be shady. Roxane’s own background is marked by her ongoing will-they, won’t-they relationship with Tom, her dead father’s former colleague. It’s hard for Roxane to make the leap of faith to commit and even harder when she learns that Tom’s been keeping one last secret for her dad. Though Roxane’s digging into the church group seems to promise danger, there’s not much suspense, and her determination to work the case even after Maggie asks her to quit clearly represents a road that’s already been too well trodden in the series to generate much excitement. Roxane may be surprised that the murder is so personal, but it’s unlikely that her readers will be.

The latest case for this hard-nosed desperado of an investigator reads a lot like the case before.

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30937-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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 FLICKER IN THE DARK

The story is sadly familiar, the treatment claustrophobically intense.

Twenty years after Chloe Davis’ father was convicted of killing half a dozen young women, someone seems to be celebrating the anniversary by extending the list.

No one in little Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, was left untouched by Richard Davis’ confession, least of all his family members. His wife, Mona, tried to kill herself and has been incapacitated ever since. His son, Cooper, became so suspicious that even now it’s hard for him to accept pharmaceutical salesman Daniel Briggs, whose sister, Sophie, also vanished 20 years ago, as Chloe’s fiance. And Chloe’s own nightmares, which lead her to rebuff New York Times reporter Aaron Jansen, who wants to interview her for an anniversary story, are redoubled when her newest psychiatric patient, Lacey Deckler, follows the path of high school student Aubrey Gravino by disappearing and then turning up dead. The good news is that Dick Davis, whom Chloe has had no contact with ever since he was imprisoned after his confession, obviously didn’t commit these new crimes. The bad news is that someone else did, someone who knows a great deal about the earlier cases, someone who could be very close to Chloe indeed. First-timer Willingham laces her first-person narrative with a stifling sense of victimhood that extends even to the survivors and a series of climactic revelations, at least some of which are guaranteed to surprise the most hard-bitten readers.

The story is sadly familiar, the treatment claustrophobically intense.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-2508-0382-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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