by Lauren Nossett ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 14, 2023
Come for the entertaining, well-crafted mystery, stay for the thoughtful critique of academia.
When a promising student at the University of Georgia is found dead, a former detective searches for answers: Do all the fingers point at his professor, the start of a witch hunt, or the path to the truth?
Marlitt Kaplan has been itching to solve a case. For months, she’s been a pariah to the Athens PD after she refused to play by the rules while investigating a fraternity, resigned in disgrace, and damaged her relationship with her former partner and closest friend, Teddy. The whispers about her “assaulting a fraternity member” or having a “gender-coded psychotic break” only added fuel to the fire—literally: Someone broke into her house and set it ablaze. Now she’s living with her parents and bored senseless. That is, until the Athens PD takes Professor Verena Sobek into the station for questioning. Verena’s student Ethan Haddock was discovered dead from an apparent suicide, and rumors are flying that he and Verena had been sleeping together. Verena's facing a Title IX investigation, and Marlitt’s mother, her colleague in the German Department, begs her daughter to prove Verena’s innocence. Marlitt’s unease about working on behalf of an accused professor is no match for her desire to investigate again, so she steps into Ethan's world. Soon, she discovers that her secret wish that the case had been a murder investigation may be coming true. Family secrets, rocky romances, a potentially rogue officer, and vindictive students teem in Nossett’s sophomore novel. Despite a few opening chapters weighed down by exposition, the novel succeeds as a page-turning mystery full of potential suspects, exciting twists, and a few red herrings. Nossett adeptly uses narrative structure to play with readers’ expectations and crafts a mystery that sits in that sweet spot: dropping just enough clues so readers can investigate alongside Marlitt, but not so many that the ending feels predictable. She handles the premise of a former detective trying to prove the innocence of an accused abuser with care. It is no small feat to transform a potentially problematic, black-and-white plot into a thoughtful investigation of the ways academic power structures (and those of law enforcement) fail individuals, but Nossett pulls it off.Come for the entertaining, well-crafted mystery, stay for the thoughtful critique of academia.
Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2023
Page Count: 336
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023
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by Michael Connelly ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 7, 2023
The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.
Harry Bosch and the Lincoln Lawyer team up to exonerate a woman who’s already served five years for killing her ex-husband.
The evidence against Lucinda Sanz was so overwhelming that she followed the advice of Frank Silver, the B-grade attorney who’d elbowed his way onto her defense, and pleaded no contest to manslaughter to avoid a life sentence for shooting Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Roberto Sanz in the back as he stalked out of her yard after their latest argument. But now that her son, Eric, is 13, old enough to get recruited by local gangs, she wants to be out of stir and at his side. So she writes to Mickey Haller, who asks his half-brother for help. After all his years working for the LAPD, Bosch is adamant about not working for a criminal defendant, even though Haller’s already taken him on as an associate so that he can get access to private health insurance and a UCLA medical trial for an experimental cancer treatment. But the habeas corpus hearing Haller’s aiming for isn’t, strictly speaking, a criminal defense proceeding, and even a cursory examination of the forensic evidence raises Bosch’s hackles. Bolstered by Bosch’s discoveries and a state-of-the-art digital reconstruction of the shooting, Haller heads to court to face Assistant Attorney General Hayden Morris, who has a few tricks up his own sleeve. The endlessly resourceful courtroom back-and-forth is furious in its intensity, although Haller eventually upstages Bosch, Morris, and everyone else in sight. What really stands out here, however, is that Connelly never lets you forget, from his title onward, the life-or-death issues behind every move in the game.The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.
Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023
Page Count: 400
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023
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by Kathy Reichs ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2020
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
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020
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