Lewis’ ponytailed New-Age PI (Death in the 12th House, 2012, etc.) is a benign presence on the roster of fictional crime...

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EVIL IN THE 1ST HOUSE

A wealthy Manhattan private eye who solves crimes by reading the stars juggles two very different cases.

Dr. Edgar Williamson begs millionaire detective/astrologer David Lowell to help his 15-year-old son, Edward. The boy is dying of kidney failure, and Williamson insists that due to his rare blood type, Edward’s missing twin brother, Kevin, is the only plausible donor. Williamson offers Lowell a suitcase stuffed with $1 million to find Kevin and his mother, Gloria Greenwald, who went underground with Kevin when she separated from Williamson. Though Lowell doesn’t need the money, he does want to help save the boy’s life, especially after a reading of the twins’ charts confirms that the 14-minute difference between their birth times means good health for Kevin and kidney issues for Edward. While Lowell and Mort Simpson, his psychic computer-hacker assistant, are trying to find Kevin and Gloria, Lowell takes on the case of pension funds embezzled from the Happy Snappy Marshmallow Company. But it’s Gloria and her two sons who really engage him, especially once he hears Gloria’s version of her marriage to Williamson. The more Lowell learns about the doctor and his patents on unusual human genomes, the more suspicious the whole case becomes, especially when an LAPD officer arrives in New York with her own grievances against Williamson. Attempts on Lowell’s life leave him shaken and baffled about whether the would-be killer is working for Williamson or the marshmallow company. He does know, however, that a thumb drive and an astrological subterfuge have driven the stakes even higher.

Lewis’ ponytailed New-Age PI (Death in the 12th House, 2012, etc.) is a benign presence on the roster of fictional crime busters. But a far-fetched plot and pedestrian style keep his third adventure earthbound.

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4642-0187-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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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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Creepy, violent, and propulsive; a standout gothic mystery.

THINGS IN JARS

Lady detective Bridie Devine searches for a missing child and finds much more than she bargained for.

Bridie Devine is no stranger to the seedy underworld of Victorian London. An accomplished detective with medical training, she sometimes helps the police by examining bodies to determine the cause of death. Bridie recently failed to find a lost child, and when she’s approached about another missing child, the daughter of Sir Edmund Berwick, she isn’t enthusiastic about taking on the case. But Christabel Berwick is no ordinary child. Sir Edmund has hidden Christabel away her whole life and wants Bridie to believe this is an ordinary kidnapping. Bridie does a little digging and learns that Christabel isn’t his daughter so much as his prized specimen. Sir Edmund believes Christabel is a “merrow,” a darker and less romanticized version of a mermaid. Bridie is skeptical, but there are reports of Christabel’s sharp teeth, color-changing eyes, and ability to drown people on dry land. Given that Bridie’s new companion is a ghost who refuses to tell her why he’s haunting her, Bridie might want to open her mind a bit. There’s a lot going on in this singular novel, and none of it pretty. Bridie’s London is soaked with mud and blood, and her past is nightmarish at best. Kidd (Mr. Flood’s Last Resort, 2018, etc.) is an expert at setting a supernatural mood perfect for ghosts and merrows, but her human villains make them seem mundane by comparison. With so much detail and so many clever, Dickensian characters, readers might petition Kidd to give Bridie her own series.

Creepy, violent, and propulsive; a standout gothic mystery.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-2128-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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