Delivering an unusual subject and structure, this tale offers refreshing emotional depth and a gay narrative seldom seen in...

CARVED IN BONE

A HENRY RIOS NOVEL

An intrepid lawyer returns in this latest installment of a mystery series centering on gay characters and themes.

In 1971, Bill Ryan, an 18-year-old in a small town in Illinois, is just beginning to explore and contemplate his sexuality. In a familiar gay narrative, Bill is caught experimenting with another boy and subsequently disowned by his family. He finds himself on a bus to San Francisco with just a bag and a few hundred dollars. Nava (Street People, 2017, etc.) then brings the action 13 years into the future to San Francisco, where attorney Henry Rios, the protagonist of several of the author’s previous novels, has left rehab and joined Alcoholics Anonymous. But the dark shadow of AIDS has already cast itself over the city and Rios’ recovery. Wanting to make more money than he can bring in with his struggling criminal defense practice, Rios takes a job as an insurance investigator. His first case is that of a local gay man who died from a gas leak in his apartment, and that individual is none other than the successful adult Bill became. Rios tries to track down the victim’s missing lover, Nick Trejo, only to discover disturbing evidence that Bill’s death might not have been an accident. Meanwhile, the novel shifts back and forth in time, showing readers how Bill finally found his way and how Rios struggles to discover where it all eventually went wrong. The main mystery driving Nava’s latest work may be of little interest to true thriller lovers—the twists and final revelations are much more tragic than suspenseful. But the book is expertly constructed to give a unique perspective on rare subjects for the genre: the AIDS crisis and the complexities of gay relationships. As readers watch young Bill wake up to the realities of his sexuality, Rios simultaneously reevaluates his own choices in light of what that man eventually became. The author offers a kaleidoscopic view of shame, greed, and the pervasive dread of an epidemic.

Delivering an unusual subject and structure, this tale offers refreshing emotional depth and a gay narrative seldom seen in thrillers.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-73360-910-4

Page Count: 366

Publisher: Persigo Press

Review Posted Online: July 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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