Robertson, who seems to command an unlimited stream of clever ideas for recycling the Holmes legend without resuscitating...

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THE BAKER STREET JURORS

It was only a matter of time, and now it’s happened at last: Sherlock Holmes gets called to jury duty.

The person who answers the summons is not, of course, the fictional Holmes, of whom solicitor Nigel Heath has already had more than his fill, presiding as he does (with his absent brother, Reggie) over the Baker Street Law Chambers (Moriarty Returns a Letter, 2014, etc.). When Her Majesty’s Crown Court, following the thousands of other naifs who’ve written to Holmes at 221B Baker St. over the years under the impression that he's a real person, sends him a summons to jury duty, Nigel tosses it out the window. And that would be that, if only the same mail delivery didn’t bring Nigel’s own summons and if, upon his selection as an alternate juror in the third murder trial of celebrated cricket star Liam McSweeney for killing his wife, he didn’t perceive in Siger—a fellow alternate who constantly quotes the Sacred Writings, makes Sherlock-ian inferences about the other jurors, and interrupts the trial by asking pointed questions—the likely finder of the summons he discarded. Both Nigel and Siger (“the longer form is Sigerson, but that’s been overused,” the mysterious alternate informs him, doubtless aware of its Holmes-ian connections) will have their hands full, since someone seems intent on promoting at least some of the five alternates to full participation by sidelining the jurors who have been duly impaneled. When Nigel’s own question of a witness leads the entire jury, along with the judge, the bailiff, and the court steward, on an outing to McSweeney’s estate on an island off the Devon coast, savvy readers will pick up the scent of another classic mystery, and they’ll be rewarded by still another stream of in-jokes and sly cross-references.

Robertson, who seems to command an unlimited stream of clever ideas for recycling the Holmes legend without resuscitating the great man, outdoes himself in the most effervescent of his five Baker Street cocktails to date.

Pub Date: July 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-06006-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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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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Locke’s advancement here is so bracing that you can’t wait to discover what happens next along her East Texas highway.

HEAVEN, MY HOME

The redoubtable Locke follows up her Edgar-winning Bluebird, Bluebird (2017) with an even knottier tale of racism and deceit set in the same scruffy East Texas boondocks.

It’s the 2016 holiday season, and African American Texas Ranger Darren Matthews has plenty of reasons for disquiet besides the recent election results. Chiefly there’s the ongoing fallout from Darren’s double murder investigation involving the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. He and his wife are in counseling. He’s become a “desk jockey” in the Rangers’ Houston office while fending off suspicions from a district attorney who thinks Darren hasn’t been totally upfront with him about a Brotherhood member’s death. (He hasn’t.) And his not-so-loving mother is holding on to evidence that could either save or crucify him with the district attorney. So maybe it’s kind of a relief for Darren to head for the once-thriving coastal town of Jefferson, where the 9-year-old son of another Brotherhood member serving hard time for murdering a black man has gone missing while motorboating on a nearby lake. Then again, there isn’t that much relief given the presence of short-fused white supremacists living not far from descendants of the town’s original black and Native American settlers—one of whom, an elderly black man, is a suspect in the possible murder of the still-missing boy. Meanwhile, Darren’s cultivating his own suspicions of chicanery involving the boy’s wealthy and imperious grandmother, whose own family history is entwined with the town’s antebellum past and who isn’t so fazed with her grandson’s disappearance that she can’t have a lavish dinner party at her mansion. In addition to her gifts for tight pacing and intense lyricism, Locke shows with this installment of her Highway 59 series a facility for unraveling the tangled strands of the Southwest’s cultural legacy and weaving them back together with the volatile racial politics and traumatic economic stresses of the present day. With her confident narrative hands on the wheel, this novel manages to evoke a portrait of Trump-era America—which, as someone observes of a pivotal character in the story, resembles “a toy ball tottering on a wire fence” that “could fall either way.”

Locke’s advancement here is so bracing that you can’t wait to discover what happens next along her East Texas highway.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-36340-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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