Filled with action and humor yet philosophically rich and deeply moving—a magnificent read.

READ REVIEW

DOC

Doc Holliday is the tragic hero in this terrific bio-epic set in a revisionist version of the Old West—more realistic yet more riveting than any movie or TV western.

Born with a cleft palate in 1851, John Henry Holliday grows up in Georgia devoted to his tubercular mother who fosters his love of literature and music before her early death. A promising dental career in Atlanta ends when he is diagnosed with tuberculosis at age 22, and he heads west for his health. By 1878, when Doc turns up in Dodge City with his mistress Kate, professional gambling has eclipsed his dental career. He has also been accused and acquitted of murder, but according to Russell (Dreamers of the Day, 2008, etc.), he is neither a hardened gunfighter nor a pathetic dipsomaniac. Soon he sets up a dental practice and befriends Morgan Earp, the most intellectual Earp brother. Fact and mythmaking converge as Russell creates a Dodge City filled with nuggets of surprising history, a city so alive readers can smell the sawdust and hear the tinkling of saloon pianos. Losing their mythic, heroic sheen, figures like Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson become more captivating for their complexity. Doc’s new friends are in their 20s (years before the O.K. Corral brings Doc and the Earps fame), still defining themselves and their ambitions, while their girlfriends are prostitutes without hearts of gold, only depressing pasts and often-hopeless futures. Doc observes the feuds and changing Dodge City politics from his vantage point, treating teeth and dealing Faro. Meanwhile, he drinks to medicate against his physical pain and gambles because the dentistry he loves won’t pay his bills. He and Kate, his intellectual equal, whose life began as the highly educated daughter of a Hungarian doctor before her family’s ruin, share an increasingly tumultuous relationship, torn apart by her neediness and the inevitability of his deteriorating health. Their creed, heartbreaking and brave, becomes “Without hope, without fear.”

Filled with action and humor yet philosophically rich and deeply moving—a magnificent read.

Pub Date: May 3, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4000-6804-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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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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