Perhaps the most minimal of all Leon’s mysteries, with no suspects to speak of and few details of the Commissario’s domestic...



From the Commissario Guido Brunetti series , Vol. 26

Commissario Guido Brunetti, taking two weeks away from the Venetian Questura for complete rest and solitude, gets both more and less solitude than he bargained for and about the same amount of rest as when he’s home.

An impetuous inspiration about how to save a subordinate from embarrassment ends up sending Brunetti to the hospital, where he’s diagnosed with high stress and urged to take some time off. His thoughtful wife, Paola, comes up with the perfect retreat: a villa her aunt owns on the nearby island of Sant’Erasmo. Packing four volumes of the classics, Brunetti (The Waters of Eternal Youth, 2016, etc.) prepares to soothe his soul by doing something physical by day and reading Pliny by night. The something physical he prescribes himself is rowing with Davide Casati, the villa’s 70-something custodian, who, to Brunetti’s delight, turns out to be an old friend of his father. But Casati is haunted by sadness over his dead wife, a mysterious ailment that’s killing the bees he keeps and loves, and a secret he’s not willing to confess even to his old friend’s son. “Do you think some of the things we do can never be forgiven?” he asks Brunetti enigmatically, shortly before the Commissario finds him drowned beneath his overturned boat. It’s an accident, of course, but Brunetti’s keen judgment, which never takes a day off, is convinced that the timing of Casati’s death is anything but coincidental and sets out to find—not the person who killed him (fans of this highly regarded series will know better than to expect much drama in this revelation) but the reason he died.

Perhaps the most minimal of all Leon’s mysteries, with no suspects to speak of and few details of the Commissario’s domestic life or his eternal professional tussles at the Questura. Think of this barely-a-case as a vacation for your own soul.

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2647-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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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. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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


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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