Fans of Nordic crime fiction have a new author to follow.

READ REVIEW

THE GIRL WITHOUT SKIN

The discovery of a mummified Norseman in the blinding Greenlandic ice cap—perhaps the archaeological find of the century—goes bad when the mummy disappears and the officer who had been guarding it overnight is left in a bloody heap, gutted like a seal.

Nordbo debuts in English with this lurid noir. Protagonist Matthew Cave, a journalist, finds his dream of scoring an international scoop complicated when the mummy find becomes a murder investigation. Plagued by personal demons, including the recent death of his pregnant wife and a father who disappeared years earlier, Matthew is bemoaning the fact that his newspaper won't publish his article about the mummy when his editor mentions a series of 40-year-old deaths that might be worth looking into. These unsolved cases featured flayed adult victims as well as missing girls, and they seem reminiscent of the recent murder. When Matthew starts looking into the cold cases, a police officer named Ottesen gives him a diary he's found in the files; it belonged to Jakob Pedersen, an officer who worked on the 1970s murders and then disappeared. This leads to parallel protagonists and timelines. Ottesen gave Matthew the diary because his own father worked with Pedersen, but the other cops aren't happy when they learn that Matthew has it. Meanwhile, Matthew becomes obsessed with Tupaarnaq Siegstad, a suspect in the recent murder, who's just been freed from prison after having served time in Denmark for killing her family, including her father, whom she gutted, when she was 15. Tupaarnaq offers to take Matthew hunting, then compels him to eat raw seal liver—"You can't come home after your first seal hunt without having tasted warm liver. Those are the rules, and they apply to you too"—and later to carry a leaking bloody plastic bag bursting with chunks of seal meat for miles. These scenes and others offer intriguing glimpses of Greenland, its relentless summer light and oppressive winter darkness. While the mystery is dramatically resolved, readers will want to learn what’s next for the bereaved Matthew, who learns a little more about his missing father in the midst of this investigation.

Fans of Nordic crime fiction have a new author to follow.

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-925603-83-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Text

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 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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Locke’s advancement here is so bracing that you can’t wait to discover what happens next along her East Texas highway.

HEAVEN, MY HOME

The redoubtable Locke follows up her Edgar-winning Bluebird, Bluebird (2017) with an even knottier tale of racism and deceit set in the same scruffy East Texas boondocks.

It’s the 2016 holiday season, and African American Texas Ranger Darren Matthews has plenty of reasons for disquiet besides the recent election results. Chiefly there’s the ongoing fallout from Darren’s double murder investigation involving the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. He and his wife are in counseling. He’s become a “desk jockey” in the Rangers’ Houston office while fending off suspicions from a district attorney who thinks Darren hasn’t been totally upfront with him about a Brotherhood member’s death. (He hasn’t.) And his not-so-loving mother is holding on to evidence that could either save or crucify him with the district attorney. So maybe it’s kind of a relief for Darren to head for the once-thriving coastal town of Jefferson, where the 9-year-old son of another Brotherhood member serving hard time for murdering a black man has gone missing while motorboating on a nearby lake. Then again, there isn’t that much relief given the presence of short-fused white supremacists living not far from descendants of the town’s original black and Native American settlers—one of whom, an elderly black man, is a suspect in the possible murder of the still-missing boy. Meanwhile, Darren’s cultivating his own suspicions of chicanery involving the boy’s wealthy and imperious grandmother, whose own family history is entwined with the town’s antebellum past and who isn’t so fazed with her grandson’s disappearance that she can’t have a lavish dinner party at her mansion. In addition to her gifts for tight pacing and intense lyricism, Locke shows with this installment of her Highway 59 series a facility for unraveling the tangled strands of the Southwest’s cultural legacy and weaving them back together with the volatile racial politics and traumatic economic stresses of the present day. With her confident narrative hands on the wheel, this novel manages to evoke a portrait of Trump-era America—which, as someone observes of a pivotal character in the story, resembles “a toy ball tottering on a wire fence” that “could fall either way.”

Locke’s advancement here is so bracing that you can’t wait to discover what happens next along her East Texas highway.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-36340-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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