Art theft is a hot topic on the mystery scene, and no one’s heist is livelier than Longworth’s.

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THE MYSTERY OF THE LOST CEZANNE

Recently returned from holiday (Murder on the Île Sordou, 2014), examining magistrate Antoine Verlaque is confronted with a dead postman, a mysterious painting, a beautiful professor, and a short-tempered lover.

Managing a small apartment building in the old city of Aix-en-Provence is not easy. But Mme. Chazeau handles the tenants of 23 rue Boulegon, famous as the last residence of Paul Cézanne, with aplomb. That is, until the discussion of who should have use of the small débarras on the first floor. Dr. Pitavy, a podiatrist, wants to use it for spare equipment. Mme. Joubert, who rents her two flats to students, wants one of her tenants to be able to keep her bicycle there. Eric and Françoise Legendre, having just moved in, have no opinion. But when retired mailman René Rouquet learns that the building's deed names him owner of the small storeroom, he goes postal, leaving the meeting and then quarreling on the street with Pierre Millot, who runs out to retrieve him. This disagreement is all the more uncomfortable for young Millot when Rouquet turns up dead. But even more uncomfortable is Rebecca Schultz, the striking African-American art historian who's standing in Rouquet's apartment, over his corpse, when Verlaque discovers it. Now Verlaque is charged not only with solving René’s murder, but with unraveling the mystery of the painting he left behind: a portrait painted with Cézanne’s characteristic brush strokes, but not of the artist's somber mistress, Hortense. Instead, it’s an image of a smiling young girl in colorful Provencal garb. Who's the girl? Is the painting a Cézanne? Verlaque tackles these puzzles, all the while struggling with a coldness growing between him and longtime love Marine Bonnet.

Art theft is a hot topic on the mystery scene, and no one’s heist is livelier than Longworth’s.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-14-312807-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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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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