Below average for this exemplary series.

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DON'T LOOK FOR ME

Amos Walker, Detroit’s premier missing persons specialist, finds virtually everything but the person he’s been hired to look for.

This isn’t the first time Cecelia Wynn’s run out on her investment banker husband, Alec. Last time, though, she left a trail even Hansel and Gretel could have followed. It led to Lloyd Debner, an apprentice at her husband’s firm, and it ended when Alec persuaded her to come back home and fired Debner, who was eagerly snatched up by another firm. Now Cecelia’s been a little more emphatic, leaving behind a note saying simply, “Don’t look for me.” So Alec hires Walker to do the looking. In accord with Cecelia’s note, she hasn’t made herself easy to find. The only leads are Ann Foster, the housekeeper Cecelia abruptly fired five weeks ago, and Elysian Fields, the drug company that sold the herbal supplements she dosed herself with religiously. Walker doesn’t find Cecelia at either Elysian Fields or with Ann Foster, but as he continues his investigation, he does find a murdered pot-grower, a come-hither clerk named Smoke, an international drug trafficking operation and Walker’s old nemesis, Charlotte Sing, who is wanted in every country that has a police force. Estleman (Burning Midnight, 2012, etc.) piles on the complications so generously—a highlight is marijuana growing used as a cover for more serious drugs—that every reader without a GPS will get lost long before Walker reports back to his client in a shivery final scene. The author supplies the customary pleasures of Walker’s snappy dialogue and cold-eyed view of his hometown, but neither Walker’s current case nor the case he stumbles into reaches a satisfying conclusion, and the return of his female Fu Manchu is more tiresome than menacing.

Below average for this exemplary series.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7653-3121-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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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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Creepy, violent, and propulsive; a standout gothic mystery.

THINGS IN JARS

Lady detective Bridie Devine searches for a missing child and finds much more than she bargained for.

Bridie Devine is no stranger to the seedy underworld of Victorian London. An accomplished detective with medical training, she sometimes helps the police by examining bodies to determine the cause of death. Bridie recently failed to find a lost child, and when she’s approached about another missing child, the daughter of Sir Edmund Berwick, she isn’t enthusiastic about taking on the case. But Christabel Berwick is no ordinary child. Sir Edmund has hidden Christabel away her whole life and wants Bridie to believe this is an ordinary kidnapping. Bridie does a little digging and learns that Christabel isn’t his daughter so much as his prized specimen. Sir Edmund believes Christabel is a “merrow,” a darker and less romanticized version of a mermaid. Bridie is skeptical, but there are reports of Christabel’s sharp teeth, color-changing eyes, and ability to drown people on dry land. Given that Bridie’s new companion is a ghost who refuses to tell her why he’s haunting her, Bridie might want to open her mind a bit. There’s a lot going on in this singular novel, and none of it pretty. Bridie’s London is soaked with mud and blood, and her past is nightmarish at best. Kidd (Mr. Flood’s Last Resort, 2018, etc.) is an expert at setting a supernatural mood perfect for ghosts and merrows, but her human villains make them seem mundane by comparison. With so much detail and so many clever, Dickensian characters, readers might petition Kidd to give Bridie her own series.

Creepy, violent, and propulsive; a standout gothic mystery.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-2128-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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