A quick-moving read with twists that will keep readers guessing.

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STRANGER

A DEATH VALLEY MYSTERY

The first installment in Garcia’s (Falling Angels, 2006) mystery series is a thrilling whodunit that’s brimming with secrets.

In Death Valley, California, during a stiflingly hot summer, a mysterious man named Eddie Chavez is murdered in the middle of the night at a roadside motel. At the time, the only two other people on the property are its owners, Alex Delgado and her brother, Ric. After they discover the gruesome murder scene, it sets them both on a path to seek out the killer; along the way, they also face their own dark pasts. As with any good crime novel, there’s also a grizzled detective and a beautiful newspaper editor who occasionally blurs ethical lines: enter Detective Will Stellar and Erika Mack, each with complicated pasts of their own. Garcia keeps readers on the hook, making them want to know everyone’s personal stories, as well as who actually committed the crime. The main characters are well-developed; their personalities are fierce, but they’re also vulnerable and protective of one another. Detective Stellar, for example, isn’t entirely sure whether Alex is innocent of the murder, but he still has a soft spot for her. After he establishes a moderate trust with her brother, he promises to make sure that Alex will be safe, in exchange for information; Ric says, “I may have something, cowboy. I’d be willing to share, for a favor.” It turns out that Ric knows someone who may know who the killer is. With several books under her belt, Garcia proves to be a great storyteller with an eye for carefully unpacking a crime. She continually drops bread crumbs regarding the mystery, and readers can’t help but follow along and pick them up. In addition, she expands on the overarching question of who did it to focus on why it was done—an unusual change in perspective for this genre.

A quick-moving read with twists that will keep readers guessing.

Pub Date: July 26, 2010

ISBN: 978-1450236928

Page Count: 304

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2015

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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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An appealing new heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a memorably nightmarish family make this one of Box’s best.

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THE BITTERROOTS

The creator of Wyoming Fish and Game Warden Joe Pickett (Wolf Pack, 2019, etc.) launches a new series starring a female private eye who messes with a powerful family and makes everyone involved rue the day.

Cassie Dewell’s been taking a monthly retainer from Bozeman attorney Rachel Mitchell for investigations of one sort and another, but she really doesn’t want to look into the case of Rachel’s newest client. That’s partly because Blake Kleinsasser, the fourth-generation firstborn of a well-established ranching family who moved to New York and made his own bundle before returning back home, comes across as a repellent jerk and partly because all the evidence indicates that he raped Franny Porché, his 15-year-old niece. And there’s plenty of evidence, from a rape kit showing his DNA to a lengthy, plausible statement from Franny. But Cassie owes Rachel, and Rachel tells her she doesn’t have to dig up exculpatory evidence, just follow the trail where it leads so that she can close off every other possibility. So Cassie agrees even though there’s an even more compelling reason not to: The Kleinsassers—Horst II and Margaret and their three other children, John Wayne, Rand, and Cheyenne, Franny’s thrice-divorced mother—are not only toxic, but viperishly dangerous to Blake and now Cassie. Everyone in Lochsa County, from Sheriff Ben Wagy on down, is in their pockets, and everyone Cassie talks to, from the Kleinsassers to the local law, finds new ways to make her life miserable. But Cassie, an ex-cop single mother, isn’t one to back down, especially since she wonders why anyone would take all the trouble to stop an investigation of a case that was as rock-solid as this one’s supposed to be.

An appealing new heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a memorably nightmarish family make this one of Box’s best.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-05105-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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