Rader-Day (The Day I Died, 2017, etc.) juices her young-widow setup with enough soul-searching, menace, and dirty linen to...

UNDER A DARK SKY

A recent widow confronts her demons and a whole lot more during a trip to the Michigan wilderness.

Eden Wallace has always been afraid of the dark, but that didn’t stop her husband, Army veteran Bix Wallace, from booking a cabin in Michigan’s Straits Point International Dark Sky Park to mark their 10th anniversary. Ironically, Bix misses the celebration when his drunken driving ends his life, along with those of four others, nine months before the big day; it’s not till after his death that Eden even learns of the reservation. Even worse, when she arrives at Dark Sky Park, she realizes that Bix, whether deliberately or not, didn’t book the whole cabin, only a suite in a building she’ll be sharing with five college chums and the new girlfriend of one of them. Dev, Paris, Sam, and Martha all make it clear that they’d love to see Eden leave. Only Malloy and Hillary, his new girlfriend, make any gestures of friendship, and those are cut in half when Eden’s awakened by a scream that pulls her to the kitchen, where Malloy is lying dead, a screwdriver in his neck. Since there’s no chance that his demise was accidental, his old buddies instantly fall to accusing each other as well as Hillary and Eden, the newcomers who’ve crashed their circle. The questions posed by Park Director Warren Hoyt, Emmet County Sheriff Jeffrey Barrows, and Officer Bridget Cooley will all play a role in determining whodunit, but not before another participant in the reunion takes a header down the stairs, still another is poisoned, and Eden, still grieving the death of her husband, realizes that she has a previous connection to the group she’s been thrown into that’s both unwelcome and ugly.

Rader-Day (The Day I Died, 2017, etc.) juices her young-widow setup with enough soul-searching, menace, and dirty linen to make you think of Mary Higgins Clark with teeth bared.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-256030-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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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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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

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