Page Investigations, the limping brainchild of alcoholic ex- cop Lorraine Page (Cold Shoulder, 1996), is about to go belly-up- -unless Lorraine and her buddies Rosie Hurst and Bill Rooney can find missing heiress Anna Louise Caley. The make-or-break case is a special challenge because Anna Louise, who grew up in Los Angeles, disappeared from New Orleans 11 months ago, right after a bare-knuckles fight with her best friend, Tilda Brown—and the ground's been endlessly trodden since then by the police and every shamus with an eye for a $100 million, the size of poor Anna Louise's trust fund. But Lorraine (an obvious Demi Moore role) talks her way into a two-week trial run, with a big fee up-front and a million-dollar bonus if she produces the missing teenager dead or alive, and promptly settles down to dig the dirt on the family circle. She convinces herself that self-dramatizing actress Elizabeth Seal Caley is injecting herself with Temazepam; that her developer husband Robert has one eye on adultery and the other on that idle trust fund; and that Anna Louise herself liked kinky sex as much as the next young American miss. Though her employers are less than overjoyed at these revelations, Lorraine, her associates still in tow, tags along on the Caleys' return trip to New Orleans, where she'll find a heady mix of gambling, voodoo, and an alarmingly industrious family of hardscrabble crooks. Despite the wholesale debauchery, La Plante's stilted dialogue and her heroine's nonstop attitudinizing (flirting, pining, and accusations seem to be her only weapons) kill any momentum, even when the gumbo hits the fan and corpses begin to spring out of the backdrop in every third scene. Overstuffed, overemotional, and unforgivably overlong. A better bet for a fun evening or two would be your nearest AA meeting. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-679-44104-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1997

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


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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