Too relentlessly facetious to take seriously but more frantic than funny.

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THE MAN THAT GOT AWAY

Criminal conspiracy doesn’t rain in 1957 Brighton: It pours.

Waiting on a staircase inside the Maison du Wax for blind sculptor Pierre Tussard and his daughter and assistant, Angélique, to finish preliminary measurements of Brighton Constabulary wireless star Inspector Geoffrey St John Steine, their latest model, Constable Peregrine Twitten overhears two teenagers whispering how much they’d love to run away together and how careful they have to be around the people who cut off Uncle Ken’s head. Laboring to remember all the proper names the couple dropped—Blackmore, Hoagland, Dickie—Twitten has no clue that he’s stumbled onto the tip of a very large and felonious iceberg. Further enlightenment arrives, along with further mystification, when Peter Dupont, the neophyte town council clerk Twitten overheard, is found with his throat cut, and his girlfriend turns out to be Deirdre Benson, whose brothers, Frank and Bruce, along with their mother, run a profitable family crime syndicate out of the Black Cat club. And there’s more. Veteran con artist Joseph "Wall-Eye" Marriott accosts Adelaide Vine and her friend Phyllis, a pair of Brighton Belles given the job of helping strangers; then he pretends to be Lord Melamine Colchester and offers to sell them gold at the bargain price of 25 pounds a brick—that is, unless it really is the Marquess of Colchester and those bricks really are gold. Dickie George, a lounge singer at the Black Cat, emerges from a week in the Brighton sewers only to be struck dead by a giant piece of candy. And Palmeira Groynes is ready to execute any number of foul schemes that Twitten could foil if only he could persuade Inspector Steine that the constabulary’s charlady was the evil genius he’s recognized as such ever since A Shot in the Dark (2018). Truss’ period burlesque extends from individual character types and obligatory scenes to the longer narrative arcs beloved of more recent franchises.

Too relentlessly facetious to take seriously but more frantic than funny.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63557-423-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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