A thousand thrills, a dozen hairpin turns, more overripe suspects than you can shake a warrant at and a near-total lack of...

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REVENGE OF INNOCENTS

Though Carolyn Sullivan has been promoted to division manager of the Ventura County Probation Department and is about to marry Mr. Right, her woes continue when a top investigator is killed.

Veronica Campbell is on the skids. Painfully aware that her husband Drew no longer loves her and strung out by the impossible demands of her depressing caseload and her four children, she’s been fabricating interviews she should be taping and basing her recommendations on hunches instead of evidence. But all that ends the day she’s shot to death at the Motor Inn. Veronica was certainly depressed enough to have taken her own life. But Carolyn (Sullivan’s Justice, 2005, etc.) is convinced her old friend was killed by person or persons unknown—a belief that’s bolstered by a series of shocking revelations by Veronica’s hell-raising daughter Jude. A drug-using high-school dropout who was twice pregnant before she turned 18, Jude sends the investigation into a startling new direction by a fusillade of accusations directed variously against her father and her sometime boyfriend, Reggie Stockton. The trouble with Jude’s stories is that she changes them constantly. No sooner has Carolyn, who’s taken the potty-mouthed waif into her home, hauled her into a deposition than Jude recants her accusations and disappears with the court reporter’s credit card. And Reggie, it turns out, is just as slippery, changing his autobiography to suit the weather. Two more murders will turn up the temperature but do nothing to clarify the mystery, which just keeps getting muddier and muddier. The only thing that’s clear is that Carolyn’s imminent marriage to millionaire computer consultant Marcus Wright is unlikely to go off as planned.

A thousand thrills, a dozen hairpin turns, more overripe suspects than you can shake a warrant at and a near-total lack of coherence once the dust has cleared.

Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-7582-1303-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2007

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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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