From the Mourning Dove Mysteries series , Vol. 2

Captivating characters star in this mesmerizing whodunit packed with secrets.

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An adrift investigator uncovers too many suspects in this mystery.

Emory Rome was unfairly dismissed from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in Murder on the Lake of Fire (2017), the first volume of Wilson’s mystery series. In this sequel, Emory is considering suing the TBI. Meanwhile, he starts a new job as a partner in Mourning Dove Investigations with his lover, Jeff Woodward, and Jeff’s longtime friend Virginia Kennon. The trio is soon tested by the bizarre death of Corey Melton, the husband of Virginia’s friend Becky. Corey fell through a window on the 29th floor of the Godfrey Tower. This is odd because Corey worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority in a neighboring building. He was in charge of seizing properties to build a wind farm. Soon, Virginia determines that Becky is having an affair. The MDI team suspects Corey was murdered and discovers a multitude of suspects, ranging from a witch to a pseudo-therapist at Corey’s workplace. Then, the head of the TBI seeks to rehire Emory, in part to make the lawsuit that the ex-agent finally filed go away. In addition, the three sleuths must deal with encounters with a man in a ski mask. Emory, Jeff, and Virginia need to find Corey’s killer before one of them becomes the next victim. Wilson never lets readers forget there is more at play here than just one case to be solved. The man in the ski mask has returned to plague Jeff and Emory; the former agent’s dark history won’t stay in the past. Furthermore, Emory learns that Jeff has a big secret. That isn’t to say that the author gives short shrift to Corey’s murder, which is enjoyably convoluted, with many people having something to gain from his death. Wilson has also populated this book with delightful characters with an emphasis on diversity. MDI features two gay men still finding their way as a couple and a Black gal pal. Longtime Southerner Wilson makes the New South its own character, with players roaming from metropolitan Knoxville to a rural area that houses the planned wind farm. That makes for a colorful travelogue with an intriguing murder thrown in.

Captivating characters star in this mesmerizing whodunit packed with secrets.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-94-739239-7

Page Count: 286

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 21, 2021


Fascinating main characters and a clever plot add up to an exciting read.

A thriller with bloody murders and plenty of suspects and featuring an unlikely partnership between two FBI investigators.

FBI consultant Amos Decker has a lot on his mind. The huge fellow once played for the Cleveland Browns in the NFL until he received a catastrophic brain injury, leaving him with synesthesia; he sees death as electric blue. More pertinent to the plot, he also has hyperthymesia, or spontaneous and highly accurate recall. On the one hand, his memories can be horrible. He’d once come home to find his wife and daughter murdered, dead in pools of blood. Later, he listens helplessly on the telephone while his ex-partner shoots herself in the mouth. On the other hand, his memory helps him solve every case he's given. Now he's sent to Florida with a brand-new partner, Special Agent Frederica White, to investigate the murder of a federal judge. Both partners are pissed at their last-minute pairing, and they immediately see themselves as a bad fit. White is a diminutive Black single mother of two who has a double black belt in karate “because I hate getting my ass kicked.” (The author doesn't mention Decker's race, but since he's being contrasted with his new partner in every way, perhaps readers are expected to see him as White. Clarity would be nice.) Their case is strange: Judge Julia Cummins was stabbed 10 times and her face covered with a mask, while her bodyguard was shot to death. Decker and White puzzle over the “very contrarian crime scene” where two murders seem to have been committed by two different people in the same place. The plot gets complex, with suspects galore. But the interpersonal dynamic between Decker and White is just as interesting as the solution to the murders, which doesn't come easily. At first, they’d like to be done with each other and go their separate ways. But as they work together, their mutual respect rises and—alas—the tension between them fades almost completely. The pair will make a great series duo, especially if a bit of that initial tension between them returns. And Baldacci shouldn’t give Decker a pass on his tortured memories, because readers enjoy suffering heroes. It's not enough that his near-perfect recall helps him in his job.

Fascinating main characters and a clever plot add up to an exciting read.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5387-1982-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022


Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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