Plotted and peopled with unstinting generosity, even if the regulars are never quite as amusing as the author thinks.

READ REVIEW

THE OLD SUCCESS

Superintendent Richard Jury’s 25th case is less a star turn than a team effort for a trio of detectives and their deep bench of helpers and hangers-on.

A pair of young sisters out walking the beach of Bryher, the smallest inhabited Isle of Scilly off the Cornish coast, find the body of a woman who’s been shot to death. Since Bryher is accessible only by ferry, it stands to reason that whoever killed Manon Vinet is still on the island. That’s hard for the close-knit native community to accept. What makes the case even harder for Divisional Commander Brian Macalvie, called in from Exeter to head the investigation, is that the victim’s most prominent link to the outside world—the fact that she once nursed the late Gerald Summerston—links her to still more violence when Summerston’s niece, Flora Flood, is arrested for fatally shooting her estranged husband, Tony Servino. Flora denies the charges, but her account—Tony threatened her because he was enraged at being served with divorce papers after a two-year separation; she only shot at his feet; an intruder entering at just that moment fired the fatal bullet from a gun of the same caliber—seems calculated to inspire skepticism from even her next-door neighbor Jury’s old friend Melrose Plant. While Jury and Sir Thomas Brownell, a legendary detective retired from Scotland Yard, are still trying to figure out whether the two murders are connected, their attention is claimed by a third: the shooting of former Summerston maid Moira Quinn in Exeter Cathedral, right on Macalvie’s home turf. The ensuing rounds of inquiry and cross-checking would tax most novelists and their detectives to the limit, but Grimes (The Knowledge, 2018, etc.) keeps dropping unexpected complications, newly minted characters, and familiar faces into a mix that becomes so head-spinning that most readers are likely to greet the denouement with a combination of surprise and relief.

Plotted and peopled with unstinting generosity, even if the regulars are never quite as amusing as the author thinks.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8021-4740-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 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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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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