Even those who find Tessa an annoying gimmick can still enjoy the closeness of the sisters and the suspense of the case.


A Texas police officer solves a crime with help from her sisters, living and departed, in this entertaining cozy.

Madelyn Castillo, a widowed single parent and rookie cop, is babysitting Gino Bernardi and Alan Foxworthy, who are in lockup after a fight over a woman in a bar. Then Maddy’s dead sister, Tessa, appears to warn her that trouble is coming. Right on cue, Maddy gets a threatening call on her cellphone and instructions to put her gun on the desk and lock herself in the ladies’ room, or her mother and daughter will die. While she’s obediently hiding, Bernardi is shot dead, and Foxworthy is wounded with her abandoned Glock. Colton Winslow, sheriff of Vineyard County, doesn’t want to hold Maddy for murder; he was once Tessa’s husband and is now married to one of Maddy’s three surviving sisters. But when Foxworthy IDs Maddy as the perp and a video shows a woman who looks like her shooting both Foxworthy and Bernardi, Colt has to arrest Maddy and tell her sisters to stay off the case—which, of course, they don’t. Maddy’s fortunes go downhill from there. Foxworthy is murdered before Tony Pirelli, the high-rolling Dallas lawyer who’s taken Maddy’s case, can question him. At least Maddy gets occasional pointers from Tessa and protection from a handsome insurance investigator searching for a missing necklace. But even with a ghostly adviser and the help of her other sisters, Tessa is unprepared—perhaps more than the reader—to find out that the mystery is not confined to Vineyard County and that not all the newcomers in her life are what they seem. Readers who can accept Tessa’s ghost will appreciate the novel dimension her insights and cheeky commentary add to Lipperman’s second Dead Sister Talking mystery (Heard It Through the Grapevine, 2013).

Even those who find Tessa an annoying gimmick can still enjoy the closeness of the sisters and the suspense of the case.

Pub Date: May 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7387-3993-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Midnight Ink/Llewellyn

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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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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Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.


Crime-fighting Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett outdoes himself during a temporary transfer from sleepy Saddlestring to fashionable Jackson Hole.

Will Jensen, the Jackson game warden, was a great guy and a model warden, but once his wife left him six months ago, he spiraled into madness and suicide, and now Joe’s been called to replace him. The transition is anything but smooth. There’s no question of Joe’s family coming with him, so he’s reduced to hoping he can get a signal for the cell-phone calls he squeezes into his busy schedule. En route to his new posting, Joe has to pursue a marauding grizzly. He arrives to meet a formidable series of challenges. Cantankerous outfitter Smoke Van Horn wants to go on attracting elk with illegal salt licks without the new warden’s interference. Animal Liberation Network activist Pi Stevenson wants him to publicize her cause and adopt a vegan diet. Developer Don Ennis wants to open a housing development for millionaires who like their meat free of additives. Ennis’s trophy wife Stella simply wants Joe—and he wants her back. As he wrestles with these demands, and with a supervisor riled over Joe’s track record of destroying government property in pursuit of bad guys (Trophy Hunt, 2004, etc.), Joe slowly becomes convinced that Will did not kill himself.

Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

Pub Date: May 5, 2005

ISBN: 0-399-15291-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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