A page-turning look at the aftermath of a parent’s worst nightmare.

A GIRL NAMED ANNA

On the 15th anniversary of her sister’s disappearance, a young woman launches her own investigation in British author Barber’s U.S. debut.

Rosie Archer was only a baby when her 3-year-old sister, Emily, disappeared at Astroland, a Florida amusement park they visited while on vacation from England. Her parents haven’t given up hope that Emily is still alive, but Rosie and her younger brother, Rob, have largely borne the brunt of the fallout. The high profile of Rosie’s famous music producer father has ensured that everyone knows who Rosie is. It’s not the kind of celebrity she wants, and her parents are understandably overprotective; Rosie chafes at this situation with risky behavior. Fifteen years haven’t blunted the guilt and blame that cycle between Emily’s parents, and while it’s obvious they’ve done their best by Rosie and Rob, the siblings' lives have been irrevocably shaped by the sister they never knew. When Rosie finds out that the trust set up to fund the search for her sister is about to run out, she decides she’s going to find out what happened to Emily and hopefully get closure for herself and her family. Meanwhile, in Florida, 18-year-old Anna Montgomery lives with her reclusive, ultrareligious mother, Mary, and is ecstatic to be heading for the forbidden Astroland with her boyfriend, William. It’s there that she flashes on some disturbing memories, and a letter hand-delivered to her mailbox calling her by another name causes Anna to question her entire existence and do a little digging (literally) of her own. Readers will quickly know the “who” of the story—it’s the “why” that’s the focus, and Rosie’s and Anna’s dual narratives lend intimacy and emotional resonance. Anna’s story often veers into Carrie territory, and Barber renders the Archers’ heart-wrenching plight with realistic emotional intensity. While it stretches credulity a bit that a teen, even a clever one like Rosie, would have more luck than all those Scotland Yard investigators and private detectives, readers willing to just go with it will find a lot to enjoy.

A page-turning look at the aftermath of a parent’s worst nightmare.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7783-0899-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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This is fast-paced, nonstop fun. Cussler fans will gobble it up.

JOURNEY OF THE PHARAOHS

Rumors of lost Egyptian treasure spark high adventure in this 17th in the NUMA series featuring oceanographer Kurt Austin and his crew (Sea of Greed, 2018, etc.).

Over 3,000 years ago, grave robbers sail away with loot from a pharaoh’s tomb. In 1927, Jake Melbourne and his plane disappear in his attempt at a trans-Atlantic flight. In the present day, arms merchants known as the Bloodstone Group have taken to stealing antiquities. They are looking for a “treasure both vast and glorious” that hieroglyphics say was shipped down the Nile and out of Egypt, perhaps even west across the Atlantic. (Holy scurvy! That must’ve been a lot of hard rowing!) The criminals are known to MI5 as “very dangerous people" and "merchants selling death.” Perfectly willing to kill everyone in their way, they are aided by mechanical crows and Fydor and Xandra, nasty sibling assassins jointly called the Toymaker. Such are the foes faced by Austin and his team from the National Underwater and Marine Agency. Of course, Austin has no interest in profit; he will gladly leave the ancient riches wherever they are. Action arrives early and often, and the failed pre-Lindbergh flight fits in neatly. Cussler and Brown concoct a nifty plot with disparate, sometimes over-the-top twists that will make even hardcore adventure fans say “Wow!” Expect claustrophobic gunfights, aerial combat, a life-threatening flood, messages from the dead, coffins of gold—and a vintage classic car, because why not? “We’re going to steal the greatest deposit of Egyptian treasure the world has ever known,” brags the evil mastermind. But he’ll have to climb over the series hero’s dead body first, which—no plot spoiler here—ain’t gonna happen.

This is fast-paced, nonstop fun. Cussler fans will gobble it up.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-08308-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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