The continuing sleuth easily substitutes for Clark’s interchangeable damsels in distress, and Burke brings a sharp legal eye...

THE CINDERELLA MURDER

The team behind Clark’s reality TV show Under Suspicion (I’ve Got You Under My Skin, 2014) returns to dramatize—all right, solve—another cold case, with welcome help from co-author Burke (All Day and a Night, 2014, etc.).

Rosemary Dempsey has always hated the references to her daughter, Susan, as Cinderella ever since Susan was found in Laurel Canyon Park the morning after her father’s 60th birthday party, a party she passed up for an audition with indie director Frank Parker. Susan made it to within half a mile of Parker’s home before she was strangled after losing a shoe, presumably in a futile attempt to outrace her killer. Now that producer Laurie Moran and the rest of the Under Suspicion crew wants to film a series of interviews about the 20-year-old murder, Rosemary sees the TV show as an opportunity to restore Susan’s individual identity to the figure of a Cinderella who’d left a shoe behind. Susan’s other intimates aren’t so eager to participate. Parker, coming off an Oscar nomination, doesn’t need the publicity. Susan’s old boyfriend, character actor Keith Ratner, has never been very cooperative. Her former UCLA roommates, Madison Meyer and Nicole Melling, have their own secrets to hide. So does her college friend Dwight Cook, who was vaulted into the ranks of Silicon Valley royalty while he was still sitting in professor Richard Hathaway’s computer science class with Susan. It’s up to Laurie and Alex Buckley, the resident lawyer of Under Suspicion who loves her, to figure out why the necklace Susan was wearing the night she died was so much more important than her shoe.

The continuing sleuth easily substitutes for Clark’s interchangeable damsels in distress, and Burke brings a sharp legal eye to the proceedings. This serendipitous series launch, or continuation, will satisfy Clark’s legion of fans and may well win her some new ones.

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-6312-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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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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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

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