The lawyer-hero remains, as always, resolute and razor sharp, even when using his gun more than his legal brain.

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A Winter of Wolves

A JEFF TRASK CRIME NOVEL

From the The Jeff Trask Crime Drama Series series , Vol. 4

This latest entry in the Jeff Trask thriller series finds the federal prosecutor chasing a killer who targets police officers.

Trask, senior litigation counsel for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C., is known for his investigative work. When homicide Detective Dixon Carter calls the attorney to a murder scene at the Lincoln Memorial, Trask witnesses the aftermath of Officer Jackie Turner’s brutal death. Subsequent murder victims are cops as well, leading Trask to surmise racially motivated crimes against police, though Turner’s missing gun initially links just two killings. Fearing a “race war,” Trask chooses as his assistant Valerie Fuentes, a competent lawyer but also a levelheaded black woman, to sit at the prosecutor’s table for a probable racially driven trial. The sole lead on the murders, however, is surveillance video showing Turner’s killer, whose only notable physical trait is his colossal size. The murders unfortunately continue, including someone Trask knows, while the attorney, Carter, and others wind up in a blistering gunfight with armed assailants that not everyone comes out of alive. This attack produces an injured baddie with possible answers to the assassinations that now seem to be political as much as racial. Trask, reassigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, searches for the culprit spearheading the murders and unearths a bigger, deadlier plan. The recurring protagonist has gradually become more a man of action than one of legal arguments, and by this fourth series installment, he’s rarely in the courtroom. Readers won’t mind, though, especially by the riveting final act, which delivers plenty of action. There’s an early reveal of bad guys and, essentially, a motive, but each new murder is generally a surprise. Rainer (Death’s White Horses, 2014, etc.) handles the race issue with prudence: Trask says his piece regarding, for example, the Black Lives Matter movement, but Fuentes counters with her own opinion. It gets perhaps a bit excessive when Trask and others have to attend a diversity seminar, with the attorney reiterating his stance when the tale’s already made it abundantly clear. On the upside, plenty of back story on the villains makes them both intriguing and intimidating.

The lawyer-hero remains, as always, resolute and razor sharp, even when using his gun more than his legal brain.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5376-1075-7

Page Count: 264

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2016

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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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