Though tart noir specialist Duffy (The Hidden Room, 2017, etc.) might seem an unlikely choice to flesh out the skeleton...

MONEY IN THE MORGUE

Marsh (1895-1982) gets her turn at resurrection in a posthumous tale, barely begun during World War II and set aside, that finds Scotland Yard’s DCI Roderick Alleyn sorely distracted from his secret mission in Marsh’s native New Zealand by the alarums and excursions of one wild night.

Talk about good timing. Aspiring engineer Sydney Brown has never taken the trouble to visit his distant grandfather, a local farmer who’s dying in Mount Seager Hospital, until the night the old man actually expires. Before Matron Isabelle Ashdown or her lieutenant, the amusingly misnamed Sister Gertrude Comfort, can do more than express preliminary condolences to Brown’s young heir, old Mr. Brown’s corpse disappears from night porter Will Kelly’s trolley, replaced by nothing less than the body of the matron. Also missing, and presumably connected, is the 1,000 pound payroll matron had made delivery clerk Jonty Glossop deposit in the hospital’s safe, along with a bonus: the 100 pounds Records Office clerk Rosamund Farquharson, back home from London, had won by backing rank outsider Lordly Stride. Although a storm has knocked out all communications with the outside world, Marsh’s franchise hero just happens to be on hand, summoned to gather information on some sinister coded wartime radio messages, and he instantly takes the case in hand. Over the course of the night, Alleyn interviews West End actress/Red Cross driver Sarah Warne, London physician Luke Hughes, a trio of convalescent soldiers chafing to get back to the war, and the local priest, Father O’Sullivan. They’re all hiding secrets, even the priest, and Alleyn serves less as an interrogator than a father confessor to all of them.

Though tart noir specialist Duffy (The Hidden Room, 2017, etc.) might seem an unlikely choice to flesh out the skeleton Marsh left behind, fans will be hard-pressed to find the joint between the two writers. Only the interminable denouement departs from Marsh’s ruthlessly efficient last acts.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63194-172-6

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Felony & Mayhem

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

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THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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