Block out time to read this page-turner at a single sitting.


A murder and a kidnapping put tremendous pressure on a formerly Amish police officer.

Mary Yoder and two of her grandchildren are picking walnuts at a deserted homestead when Mary is brutally murdered by someone who also abducts her 7-year-old granddaughter, Elsie Helmuth. Painters Mill police chief Kate Burkholder is on patrol when a panicked Amish girl, who looks about 5, comes running toward her, "vibrating all over...mewling sounds tearing from a throat that's gone hoarse," screaming that Da Deivel has hurt her Grossmammi. Mary lived with her daughter and son-in-law Miriam and Ivan Helmuth, and the missing child is one of their eight. A massive search is instituted after the traumatized Annie Helmuth describes the killer as a very large Amish man with brown hair. Kate checks out the few obvious suspects in the generally nonviolent community, including several sex offenders, but finds no reason for the crime until one of the Helmuth children mentions that "Mamm says Elsie was a gift," and "Bishop Troyer brought her," helping Kate put together several telltale facts. Elsie was the only Helmuth child not delivered by midwife Martha Hershberger. She’s a brown-haired, brown-eyed child whose siblings are all green-eyed strawberry blonds. And two of the Helmuth girls are 7 years old. After tracking down birth certificates, Kate realizes Elsie isn’t the Helmuths’ biological child, and a distraught Miriam breaks down and admits the child was indeed brought to them by Bishop Troyer and a midwife and bishop from Scioto County. Kate, who grew up Amish before leaving the community, is aghast that Troyer would have anything to do with an illegal child placement. Following up the lead, Kate learns that the Scioto bishop was killed in a supposed hit-and-run. The midwife is murdered after Kate’s first visit. Kate herself is lucky to escape when she’s attacked by the killer. Bible verses left at the scenes that suggest someone seeking revenge leave Kate with still more trails to follow. Once again, the queen of Amish mysteries (A Gathering of Secrets, 2018, etc.) uses past events to drive her story.

Block out time to read this page-turner at a single sitting.

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-14286-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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One protest from an outraged innocent says it all: “This is America. This is Wyoming.”

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Once again, Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett gets mixed up in a killing whose principal suspect is his old friend Nate Romanowski, whose attempts to live off the grid keep breaking down in a series of felony charges.

If Judge Hewitt hadn’t bent over to pick up a spoon that had fallen from his dinner table, the sniper set up nearly a mile from his house in the gated community of the Eagle Mountain Club would have ended his life. As it was, the victim was Sue Hewitt, leaving the judge alive and free to rail and threaten anyone he suspected of the shooting. Incoming Twelve Sleep County Sheriff Brendan Kapelow’s interest in using the case to promote his political ambitions and the judge’s inability to see further than his nose make them the perfect targets for a frame-up of Nate, who just wants to be left alone in the middle of nowhere to train his falcons and help his bride, Liv Brannon, raise their baby, Kestrel. Nor are the sniper, the sheriff, and the judge Nate’s only enemies. Orlando Panfile has been sent to Wyoming by the Sinaloan drug cartel to avenge the deaths of the four assassins whose careers Nate and Joe ended last time out (Wolf Pack, 2019). So it’s up to Joe, with some timely data from his librarian wife, Marybeth, to hire a lawyer for Nate, make sure he doesn’t bust out of jail before his trial, identify the real sniper, who continues to take an active role in the proceedings, and somehow protect him from a killer who regards Nate’s arrest as an unwelcome complication. That’s quite a tall order for someone who can’t shoot straight, who keeps wrecking his state-issued vehicles, and whose appalling mother-in-law, Missy Vankeuren Hand, has returned from her latest European jaunt to suck up all the oxygen in Twelve Sleep County to hustle some illegal drugs for her cancer-stricken sixth husband. But fans of this outstanding series will know better than to place their money against Joe.

One protest from an outraged innocent says it all: “This is America. This is Wyoming.”

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53823-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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