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

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...

BADLANDS

Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more