A gravely decorous period piece that vividly evokes its moment while maintaining an archly amused distance from it.

KAROLINA AND THE TORN CURTAIN

Murder strikes much too close to home for sleuthing socialite Zofia Turbotyńska.

Called to the beach below the Rożnowski Villa one April morning in 1895, Cracow police commissioner Stanislaw Jednoróg finds the body of a young woman who’s been stabbed to death. The victim is Karolina Szulc, Zofia’s virginal 17-year-old housemaid, who abruptly quit the day before to leave town in the company of the man who’d swept her off her feet even though she already had another suitor. Angry and sad, Zofia presses her cook, Franciszka Gawęda, to dig up evidence of the new sweetheart’s name, and Franciszka obliges by finding a business card that identifies him as engineer Marceli Bzowski. When Zofia, already shaken by the suicide of Brazilian José Silva the morning after Karolina’s death, confronts Bzowski in the full fury of her righteousness, the engineer, who’s married, swears that he wasn’t the man in question; an entire case of his business cards must have been stolen during his last trip to the Rózana Street brothel run by Madame Olesia Dunin. Following this clue leads Zofia to focus her investigation on a trafficking ring whose boundaries far exceed Rózana Street, Cracow, and Poland. Pseudonymous partners Jacek Dehnel and Piotr Tarczyński bring both the do-gooders and the criminals of fin-de-siècle Cracow to entertaining life, but their deepest interest is in the unlikely detective lurking beneath “the sedate Mrs. Jekyll”: “the hidden Mrs. Hyde, the fearless stalker of criminals.”

A gravely decorous period piece that vividly evokes its moment while maintaining an archly amused distance from it.

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-15757-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Not the best of Connelly’s procedurals, but nobody else does them better than his second-best.

DESERT STAR

A snap of the yo-yo string yanks Harry Bosch out of retirement yet again.

Los Angeles Councilman Jake Pearlman has resurrected the LAPD’s Open-Unsolved Unit in order to reopen the case of his kid sister, Sarah, whose 1994 murder was instantly eclipsed in the press by the O.J. Simpson case when it broke a day later. Since not even a councilor can reconstitute a police unit for a single favored case, Det. Renée Ballard and her mostly volunteer (read: unpaid) crew are expected to reopen some other cold cases as well, giving Bosch a fresh opportunity to gather evidence against Finbar McShane, the crooked manager he’s convinced executed industrial contractor Stephen Gallagher, his wife, and their two children in 2013 and buried them in a single desert grave. The case has haunted Bosch more than any other he failed to close, and he’s fine to work the Pearlman homicide if it’ll give him another crack at McShane. As it turns out, the Pearlman case is considerably more interesting—partly because the break that leads the unit to a surprising new suspect turns out to be both fraught and misleading, partly because identifying the killer is only the beginning of Bosch’s problems. The windup of the Gallagher murders, a testament to sweating every detail and following every lead wherever it goes, is more heartfelt but less wily and dramatic. Fans of the aging detective who fear that he might be mellowing will be happy to hear that “putting him on a team did not make him a team player.”

Not the best of Connelly’s procedurals, but nobody else does them better than his second-best.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-48565-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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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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