Although Trow (The Angel, 2016, etc.) puts modern slang into the mouths of his 19th-century characters and seems less...

THE ISLAND

Two Victorian private eyes find their fourth case—or rather it finds them—in New England.

The surprise engagement of enquiry agent (and ex–Civil War captain) Matthew Grand’s little sister, Martha, provides an excuse for him to take a holiday and bring fellow sleuth, ex-journalist, and thoroughly British James Batchelor to Rye, New Hampshire, for the wedding. Although the best that Martha and Matthew’s devoted nurse can say about the groom is that he’s handsome, she knows that for Martha, the wedding is coming not a day too soon. At the elegant prenuptial dinner party in the Grands’ seaside home near the Isles of Shoals, Martha insists on wearing tightly laced stays to hide her expectancy from her groom, her parents, her uncle Josiah (who’s probably too drunk to notice in any case), Isles of Shoals native Celia Thaxter, and Mark "Uncle Sam” Twain. The party is disrupted when Martha faints from her stays, her mother faints from the surprise arrival of Matthew’s seafaring cousin, and Martha’s matron of honor faints when she sees her maid with a bashed-in head. Matthew and James, who find the corpse first, miraculously manage to hide the unfortunate event and close off the crime scene until after Martha’s wedding. The nearest police are in Boston, and they’re so slow to respond that Matthew and James undertake the interrogations of the houseguests, at least until Celia trips over another corpse with a smashed skull and finally gets the attention of the Boston police chief. But the worst is yet to come: a beacon summons detectives and suspects alike to the island of Smuttynose, where the lighthearted tone is darkened by a brutal scene inspired by a true-life crime.

Although Trow (The Angel, 2016, etc.) puts modern slang into the mouths of his 19th-century characters and seems less consistently interested in history than in his other series, he’s still good for a witty and clever tale.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-78029-102-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Creme de la Crime

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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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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One protest from an outraged innocent says it all: “This is America. This is Wyoming.”

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LONG RANGE

Once again, Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett gets mixed up in a killing whose principal suspect is his old friend Nate Romanowski, whose attempts to live off the grid keep breaking down in a series of felony charges.

If Judge Hewitt hadn’t bent over to pick up a spoon that had fallen from his dinner table, the sniper set up nearly a mile from his house in the gated community of the Eagle Mountain Club would have ended his life. As it was, the victim was Sue Hewitt, leaving the judge alive and free to rail and threaten anyone he suspected of the shooting. Incoming Twelve Sleep County Sheriff Brendan Kapelow’s interest in using the case to promote his political ambitions and the judge’s inability to see further than his nose make them the perfect targets for a frame-up of Nate, who just wants to be left alone in the middle of nowhere to train his falcons and help his bride, Liv Brannon, raise their baby, Kestrel. Nor are the sniper, the sheriff, and the judge Nate’s only enemies. Orlando Panfile has been sent to Wyoming by the Sinaloan drug cartel to avenge the deaths of the four assassins whose careers Nate and Joe ended last time out (Wolf Pack, 2019). So it’s up to Joe, with some timely data from his librarian wife, Marybeth, to hire a lawyer for Nate, make sure he doesn’t bust out of jail before his trial, identify the real sniper, who continues to take an active role in the proceedings, and somehow protect him from a killer who regards Nate’s arrest as an unwelcome complication. That’s quite a tall order for someone who can’t shoot straight, who keeps wrecking his state-issued vehicles, and whose appalling mother-in-law, Missy Vankeuren Hand, has returned from her latest European jaunt to suck up all the oxygen in Twelve Sleep County to hustle some illegal drugs for her cancer-stricken sixth husband. But fans of this outstanding series will know better than to place their money against Joe.

One protest from an outraged innocent says it all: “This is America. This is Wyoming.”

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53823-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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