Satisfyingly doom-and-gloomy, even though many readers will balk at the last round of dark revelations and the last spasm of...

SECOND SKIN

A second dose of murderous troubles that hit all too close to home for Jacksonville homicide detective Daniel Turner and his family.

Daniel’s sister Lillian isn’t the type to let things go. So when Sheneel Greene, one of her favorite students, goes missing, she asks her husband, skip tracer Johnny Bellefleur, to see if he can find her. Johnny demurs, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway, for Sheneel’s already dead. Since Johnny is another one who doesn’t let things go, he asks Daniel for a peek at Sheneel’s case file, only to hit the first of many brick walls. There’s a file all right, and Daniel shows it to him, but he assures him that there's no case: Sheneel had tried to kill herself three times before, and the fourth time was presumably the charm. There’s even a convenient note in the victim’s own handwriting. Daniel doesn’t seem to care that Sheneel’s body was full of drugs that suicides rarely use or that someone’s cut off her arm with a sharp implement. Not even the death of Sheneel’s half brother, Alex, another very iffy suicide, sways him. So it falls to Johnny, still battling demons from his job bagging combat casualties for the Navy (Blue Avenue, 2014), and his sister to tie the deaths to the villainous Phelps family, whose long history of exploiting North Florida’s resources and locals provides far too many suspects—Edward the monstrous patriarch, his rapacious son, Stephen, their wives and unacknowledged children—each of whom takes a turn in the spotlight before yielding to someone who looks even guiltier. Long before the curtain comes down, Lillian won’t know who on Earth she can trust, and neither will you.

Satisfyingly doom-and-gloomy, even though many readers will balk at the last round of dark revelations and the last spasm of violence that accompanies them.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7278-8534-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 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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Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

OUT OF RANGE

Crime-fighting Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett outdoes himself during a temporary transfer from sleepy Saddlestring to fashionable Jackson Hole.

Will Jensen, the Jackson game warden, was a great guy and a model warden, but once his wife left him six months ago, he spiraled into madness and suicide, and now Joe’s been called to replace him. The transition is anything but smooth. There’s no question of Joe’s family coming with him, so he’s reduced to hoping he can get a signal for the cell-phone calls he squeezes into his busy schedule. En route to his new posting, Joe has to pursue a marauding grizzly. He arrives to meet a formidable series of challenges. Cantankerous outfitter Smoke Van Horn wants to go on attracting elk with illegal salt licks without the new warden’s interference. Animal Liberation Network activist Pi Stevenson wants him to publicize her cause and adopt a vegan diet. Developer Don Ennis wants to open a housing development for millionaires who like their meat free of additives. Ennis’s trophy wife Stella simply wants Joe—and he wants her back. As he wrestles with these demands, and with a supervisor riled over Joe’s track record of destroying government property in pursuit of bad guys (Trophy Hunt, 2004, etc.), Joe slowly becomes convinced that Will did not kill himself.

Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

Pub Date: May 5, 2005

ISBN: 0-399-15291-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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