Johnston’s gentle but bland heroine, now making her third appearance, and her lack of subtlety in handling the theme of luck...

UNLUCKY CHARMS

A murder in a town obsessed with luck leaves residents unsure what they can do to protect themselves while the prime suspect tries to clear her name.

As she concludes her public talk in Destiny, California, about animals and superstitions, Rory Chasen’s excited to share her newest products with her neighbors in her adopted home. The manager at the Lucky Dog Boutique, a store that specializes in the luckiest of accessories and food (yes, lucky food) for pets, Rory’s come up with a line of pet toys infused with luck, like a stuffed rabbit with an oversized foot. Though it may be corny, the town’s residents and visitors have all come to Destiny to share in the luck, and every interaction is sanctified by knocking on wood or crossing fingers. Rory (Knock on Wood, 2015, etc.) feels pretty lucky herself. Having come to Destiny to investigate the death of her fiance, she’s thinking of staying indefinitely, even shopping for an apartment or house to share with her best friend, Gemma, an even more recent transplant. Learning of their plans, pushy real estate agent Flora Curtival forces her services on Rory and Gemma even though the two aren’t sure they’re ready to commit. Nor is Rory the only person Flora is antagonizing. Rumors link her to a series of break-ins evidently intent on bringing storekeepers bad luck. Rory hears about the rumors from her boyfriend, policeman Justin Halbertson, though she’s also informed that it’s bad luck to talk about the crimes. Guilty or innocent, Flora is soon found murdered with one of Rory’s lucky rabbit’s feet stuffed in her mouth. Now Rory will need all the luck she can find to maintain her innocence.

Johnston’s gentle but bland heroine, now making her third appearance, and her lack of subtlety in handling the theme of luck will either amuse or repel readers.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7387-4555-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Midnight Ink/Llewellyn

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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