Mejia’s (Everything You Want Me To Be, 2017) thrilling tale works both as an engaging mystery and a haunting meditation on...

LEAVE NO TRACE

A young woman with a troubled past helps an unusual young man find his father in the beautiful but dangerous wilds of Minnesota.

Twenty-three-year-old speech therapist Maya Stark was lucky to get the job at the Congdon Psychiatric Facility considering that she used to be a patient there. After Maya’s mother, Jane, a geologist who fostered her daughter's love for the natural world, tried to kill herself and then disappeared, Maya lost her way, making a bad decision that led to a shocking act of violence and then to a stint at Congdon. But she got herself together, got her degree, and she loves her job. She’s even rebuilding her relationship with her father, though she finds it hard to let people get close to her. When 19-year-old Lucas Blackthorn is admitted after a burglary attempt, he seems to recognize Maya, but that would be impossible since he's spent the past 10 years off the grid after disappearing into the expansive Boundary Waters with his father, Josiah. His first encounter with Maya ends with a cord around her neck as he tries to escape, but Maya refuses to let the incident slow her down. Despite Lucas' aggressiveness, Maya is one of the few people he responds to, and her boss and former doctor assigns her to his case. Maya is surprised but undeniably intrigued and begins to look forward to her time with this sad young man. They eventually form a bond, and when Maya discovers that Lucas’ father is still alive but in danger, she finds she’s willing to do just about anything to get them back together before it’s too late. Bathed in shades of melancholy, Maya’s narration, woven in with Lucas and Josiah’s heartbreaking story, is a testament to resiliency, and when Maya reveals her secret—the event that led to her time in Congdon—it’s a shocker. But it’s her ability to endure and thrive that makes her so fascinating; she's actually quite a kick-ass when push comes to shove. Keep tissues handy for this one but be assured that, in the end, there is hope to be found.

Mejia’s (Everything You Want Me To Be, 2017) thrilling tale works both as an engaging mystery and a haunting meditation on grief, abandonment, and the lost places within ourselves. Brutal, devastating, and utterly riveting.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7736-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Emily Bestler/Atria

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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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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