Another dive into the past to solve crimes among the Amish that explores the group's tense relationship to the modern world.

FALLEN

A formerly Amish police chief revisits earlier times to solve a brutal murder.

On hearing that Rachael Schwartz has been found viciously beaten to death in a Painters Mill motel, Police Chief Kate Burkholder remembers her as an adventurous child she used to babysit and a rowdy teen unsuited for Amish life. Rachael had recently written a book on the Amish that added new enemies to the ones she’d made with her wild ways, but it’s still hard to imagine who could hate her enough to batter her to death. Kate visits Rachael’s childhood friend Loretta, who still kept in touch with her and whose horse-crazy daughter reminds Kate of Rachael. Even though Loretta always seemed too shy to make a good friend for Rachael, their youthful bond still endures, and Loretta’s reluctant to talk about Rachael and their shared past. Kate enlists the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation for help in processing the scene and checking out all the leads. Rachael had done well for herself but seemed to be living above her means and certainly hadn’t mellowed with age. Kate, who’s fallen from Amish grace herself, identifies with Rachael in a visceral way that makes the case special for her. Acknowledging that someone from her present life may be the killer, she still believes the answer lies in the past, and her hunch is borne out when shocking secrets come to light that roil the community and put her own life in danger.

Another dive into the past to solve crimes among the Amish that explores the group's tense relationship to the modern world.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-4292-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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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

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All of Pendergast’s adventures are weird and wonderful fun, and this is no exception.

BLOODLESS

FBI Special Agent Pendergast and his cohorts face great peril as they try to find out what’s bleeding a Georgia city dry.

In 1971, the mysterious hijacker D.B. Cooper parachutes from a commercial airliner with a bundle of cash in the remote northwest and is never heard from again. A half-century later, Aloysius X.L. Pendergast and colleague Armstrong Coldmoon are sent to Savannah, Georgia, to investigate a “most peculiar incident”: a body has washed ashore with nary a drop of blood left in the corpse. A reader’s first thought might be What’s that got to do with an old hijacking? Leave it to the imaginations of Preston and Child to eventually make the delightfully strange connection. Pendergast looks every bit the stereotypical undertaker, not at all fitting the FBI mold. He brings along his adult “ward,” Constance Greene, who brings her stiletto everywhere she goes. Meanwhile, bloodless bodies accumulate. Who could possibly be committing these frightful atrocities? And why only in Savannah? That one’s easy: because it’s a spooky old city “with its gnarled trees and crooked houses,” and everything about the plot is spooky and surreal. A film crew prepares to create a phony documentary in a graveyard using smoke machines and showing callous disregard for the dead. A scheming U.S. senator frets that the rapid escalation in ghastly violence will hurt his reelection prospects, and he pressures the FBI for a rapid solution. Unfortunately, the killer makes an unholy mess of the city, sucking out its Southern charm along with plenty of blood. He—she—let’s settle on it—turns the tale into one of more horror than crime. Without Pendergast’s perspicacity, Coldmoon’s competence, and Constance’s cojones (figuratively, of course), that old city of mint juleps would be a smoking hole in the ground. And readers wouldn’t learn about D.B. Cooper’s fate. The authors’ imaginations run unfettered as they travel to unearthly locales, but in the end it comes down to beleaguered Savannah.

All of Pendergast’s adventures are weird and wonderful fun, and this is no exception.

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5387-3670-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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