Although Celine keeps the killer hidden till the end, her scatterbrained heroine’s antics become ever more trying in this...

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PET IN PERIL

A pet chef leaves no mystery unsolved.

Kitty Karlyle’s life has improved since she acquired a fiance and a roommate to help pay the bills as she struggles to grow her gourmet food business for the pets of Hollywood’s elite. She also hosts the TV program The Pampered Pet, for which her roommate, Fran, is the makeup artist. Fran thinks Kitty’s pets, Fred the dog and Barney the cat, are depressed and need a visit to the pet psychologist. Dr. Newhart’s been recommending Kitty’s food to his clients, so it’s hard to say no when her producer books her, Fran, and the pets into the pet-friendly Little Switzerland Resort and Spa for relaxation and a spot of filming. No sooner have they checked in than they run into Victor Cornwall, an obnoxious drunk, in the lobby. Only after he leaves do they discover that he’s dropped a valuable ring. When they go to his room to return it, they find him murdered. The police fasten on Fran as a suspect, since she was the last to have seen him, and she bade him farewell by telling him to drop dead. So Kitty, who can never leave a mystery to the police (Lights, Camera, Murder!, 2016), has all the more reason to snoop around and find some other suspects. That’s no problem, since Cornwall has defrauded many victims and is hated by everyone, from his beautiful wife to the head chef at the resort. His wife is no pet lover, but she refuses to give up his two valuable poodles and seems to be trying to get back together with her former husband, who soured on Cornwall after he too lost money in a scheme. The local police chief wants nothing to do with Kitty and Fran’s sleuthing attempts, and every time Kitty’s fiance calls from his police training course, her phone is answered by an annoying guy who keeps dropping in. Kitty barely escapes becoming a victim, but she does find the killer.

Although Celine keeps the killer hidden till the end, her scatterbrained heroine’s antics become ever more trying in this day-at-the-beach cozy.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7278-8647-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 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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An appealing new heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a memorably nightmarish family make this one of Box’s best.

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THE BITTERROOTS

The creator of Wyoming Fish and Game Warden Joe Pickett (Wolf Pack, 2019, etc.) launches a new series starring a female private eye who messes with a powerful family and makes everyone involved rue the day.

Cassie Dewell’s been taking a monthly retainer from Bozeman attorney Rachel Mitchell for investigations of one sort and another, but she really doesn’t want to look into the case of Rachel’s newest client. That’s partly because Blake Kleinsasser, the fourth-generation firstborn of a well-established ranching family who moved to New York and made his own bundle before returning back home, comes across as a repellent jerk and partly because all the evidence indicates that he raped Franny Porché, his 15-year-old niece. And there’s plenty of evidence, from a rape kit showing his DNA to a lengthy, plausible statement from Franny. But Cassie owes Rachel, and Rachel tells her she doesn’t have to dig up exculpatory evidence, just follow the trail where it leads so that she can close off every other possibility. So Cassie agrees even though there’s an even more compelling reason not to: The Kleinsassers—Horst II and Margaret and their three other children, John Wayne, Rand, and Cheyenne, Franny’s thrice-divorced mother—are not only toxic, but viperishly dangerous to Blake and now Cassie. Everyone in Lochsa County, from Sheriff Ben Wagy on down, is in their pockets, and everyone Cassie talks to, from the Kleinsassers to the local law, finds new ways to make her life miserable. But Cassie, an ex-cop single mother, isn’t one to back down, especially since she wonders why anyone would take all the trouble to stop an investigation of a case that was as rock-solid as this one’s supposed to be.

An appealing new heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a memorably nightmarish family make this one of Box’s best.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-05105-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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