Long before the end, the sorely tried heroine realizes, “I can’t trust anyone.” Neither can the expertly manipulated reader.



Having ended the saga of forensic psychologist Frieda Klein on a suitably harrowing note (Day of the Dead, 2018), French produces a stand-alone that’s just as suspenseful, especially because there’s no franchise heroine whose survival is assured.

Summoned by a peremptory text to her lover’s Covent Garden pied à terre the morning after they’ve enjoyed an assignation as satisfying as it is secret, Neve Jennifer Connolly finds Saul Stevenson bashed to death with a hammer. At the point of dialing 999, Neve takes a moment to think what the news of her affair and her inevitable involvement in the police inquiry will do to her husband, mostly jobless painter/decorator/illustrator Fletcher Connolly, their two young sons, Rory and Connor, and mainly their daughter, Mabel, a child with a troubled teen history who’s just now packing her things to move to university—and then decides on a completely different plan of action. She removes every trace that she’s ever been in the place, scrubs it clean of her fingerprints (and everyone else’s), then goes back home, returns to her domestic rounds, and is lying in bed next to Fletcher that night before she’s realizing that she’s left a unique and easily identified bangle bracelet at the flat. That’s only the first of many twists best left to readers to discover as French ramps up the nightmare sense of claustrophobia that dogs Neve’s every movement and intensifies each pang of guilt and second-guessing. Neve is swiftly entangled in a thicket of lies to DCI Alastair Hitching; to her co-workers at Sans Serif, the partnership Saul’s firm Redfern Publishers took over; to Saul’s wife, Bernice, who confides in Neve that she thinks her husband’s been having an affair and asks her to look out for who his partner might have been; and to the very family she’s straining her every nerve to protect.

Long before the end, the sorely tried heroine realizes, “I can’t trust anyone.” Neither can the expertly manipulated reader.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-267672-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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