The prairie wind brings a welcome change for Martin, author of the ultra-arch Philadelphia-based Blackbird sisters...

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MISS RUFFLES INHERITS EVERYTHING

A wealthy widow stymies a Texas town by leaving her vast fortune to her dog.

In her day, Honeybelle Hensley had been the toast of Mule Stop, Texas, presiding over University of the Alamo’s football games in a white Stetson and “diamond earrings the size of pinto beans.” Half the town owes their survival to Honeybelle’s free hand with her late husband Hut’s money, earned through the success of Hensley Oil and Gas, which is now run with the help of Hut Junior. So it isn’t surprising that the people of Mule Stop show up in force at Honeybelle’s funeral to give her the send-off such a generous soul deserves. Her family’s farewell is more restrained since Honeybelle and her daughter-in-law, Posie, had recently clashed over the fate of the Lady Bird Johnson Bluebonnet Festival. Honeybelle gets the last laugh when Ten Tennyson, the grandson of her lawyer, Max, reads her will. The bulk of her estate is put in trust for her Texas cattle cur, Miss Ruffles, with bequests of $1 million each to her cook, Mae Mae Bellefontaine, her butler, Mr. Carver, and her secretary, Sunny McKillip, on the condition that they keep the dog safe and healthy for a year. A recent transplant from Ohio, Sunny is already overwhelmed by Texas. When Miss Ruffles disappears and two creepy guys in black suits claim her late mother owed a sizable chunk of change to their boss, Sunny seems ready to high-tail it back to Chagrin Falls. But her determination to reclaim Miss Ruffles, a growing suspicion that her employer did not die a natural death, and a burgeoning attraction to Ten keep Sunny firmly planted in the Lone Star State.

The prairie wind brings a welcome change for Martin, author of the ultra-arch Philadelphia-based Blackbird sisters mysteries, promising a series with real heart in the craziest small town since Maggody, Arkansas.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-57374-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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