Fans of the series (Aunt Dimity and the Widow’s Curse, 2017, etc.) will find this tale less mysterious than previous...

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AUNT DIMITY AND THE KING'S RANSOM

Plans for a quiet romantic weekend go badly wrong when Mother Nature strikes.

Lori and Bill Shepherd’s life with their three children in the charming Cotswold village of Finch is lovely but so busy that Bill thinks Lori’s a bit burned out. He suggests she join him on a visit to a client near Rye and then spend some time at The Mermaid Inn, a great historic accommodation with all mod cons and fantastic food. Lori drops Bill off at Blayne Hall and heads for Rye, where Bill will soon join her courtesy of his client’s chauffeur. The typical English rain turns into a fierce storm that forces Lori to take shelter at St. Alfege’s church in Shepney, where she makes the acquaintance of Christopher Wyndham, who, as it turns out, is a bishop and her guide and companion when the flooding forces her to remain in Shepney. Unfortunately, a whole tour bus is also stuck there, leaving only one room available for Lori in a dusty attic at The King’s Ransom. Undaunted, Lori pitches in to help. Soon she’s peeling veggies for Steve, the cook, who, despite his size and tattoos, is a marvelous chef. When Lori hears footsteps, children laughing, and creaking doors during the night, she’s comforted by the blank book in which the spectral Aunt Dimity writes sage advice in times of trouble. After hearing tales of ghosts and smugglers, Lori resolves to figure out who or what is making the mysterious noises. With the help of the bishop and various locals, she tries to determine where the inn’s name came from. Was there really a king involved? She comes up with several theories that are rather more theatrical than either the mysterious sounds or the inn’s name would seem to require. But all is revealed in the end.

Fans of the series (Aunt Dimity and the Widow’s Curse, 2017, etc.) will find this tale less mysterious than previous installments but equally heartwarming and filled with all kinds of interesting people.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52265-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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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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