Less notable for its individual stories than for the revised narrative they support that shows Victorian women actively...

IN THE SHADOW OF AGATHA CHRISTIE

Veteran anthologist Klinger’s fondness for shadows (In the Shadow of Edgar Allan Poe, 2015, etc.) leads him to a bit of overreaching: none of the 17 authors showcased here toiled in Christie’s shadow, because their stories all appeared between 1850 and 1917, before Christie had published a word.

Even so, Klinger the archivist and editor has done the field an invaluable service by excavating so many stories, mostly, as his subtitle aptly puts it, “by forgotten female authors” from the supposed interregnum between Poe and Conan Doyle. True, the earliest and most obscure of his discoveries—Catherine Crowe’s “The Advocate’s Wedding Day,” Mary Fortune’s “Traces of Crime,” Harriet Prescott Spofford’s “Mr. Furbush”—are so ponderous and unmysterious that they’re more likely to interest antiquarians than fans, and Elizabeth Gaskell’s “The Squire’s Story,” though more finely wrought, offers little more mystery than its contemporaries. The plot thickens with Ellen Wood’s “Mrs. Todhetley’s Earrings,” which adds an actual, albeit transparent, mystery; Elizabeth Corbett’s “Catching a Burglar,” which sends detective Dora Bell undercover as a lady’s maid; and C.L. Pirkis’ “The Ghost of Fountain Lane,” in which sleuthing Loveday Brooke brings some ingenuity to the case of a stolen check. Ellen Glasgow raises questions about the morality of abetting a criminal’s suicide in “Point in Morals”; L.T. Meade and Robert Eustace provide a virtually unguessable cause of violent death in “The Blood-Red Cross”; a nondescript Viennese detective clears a man accused of murder in Augusta Groner’s stolid “The Case of the Registered Letter”; the ghost in M.E. Braddon’s “The Winning Sequence” hides a shameful secret; the disappearance of a valuable formula in Anna Katherine Green’s “Missing: Page Thirteen,” holds the key to a long-unsuspected crime. The best stories, though, are by the least-forgotten names in the genre. The detective known as The Old Man in the Corner shines in Baroness Orczy’s “The Regent’s Park Murder”; Carolyn Wells sends up the genre amusingly in “The Adventure of the Clothes-Line”; and Susan Glaspell’s frequently reprinted “Jury of Her Peers” brings the volume to an appropriately grim yet triumphant close.

Less notable for its individual stories than for the revised narrative they support that shows Victorian women actively working the field long before Miss Marple.

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68177-630-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pegasus Crime

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...

BADLANDS

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 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

more