Upson’s (Two for Sorrow, 2010, etc.) attempt to engage real-life mystery writer Josephine Tey in a murder is not for those...


Three generations of homeowners feel the effects of a violent murder in rural England.

Hester Larkspur’s will, leaving Red Barn Cottage, in Polstead, Suffolk, to her goddaughter Josephine Tey, has a strange codicil. If Josephine wants the cottage, she must sort out Hester’s papers, evaluate their worth and let someone named Lucy Kyte take what she most needs from the cottage. No one, not even Hester’s lawyer, knows who or where Lucy is. When Josephine first visits the place, it’s in such sad disrepair that she isn’t sure she’ll get what she needs, either. The cottage was named for the barn where Maria Marten, a willful young Polstead woman, was murdered and buried more than a century ago. In her prime, Hester was a beautiful and popular actress best known for her role in a play based on the murder, and she fueled the legend by writing a diary that’s a fictionalized account of Maria’s tragic life, as recounted by her best friend. While Josephine gets to know both Maria and Hester through the diary and struggles to make Red Barn Cottage more livable for herself and her lover, Marta Fox, she’s increasingly aware that something is amiss. Not only did Hester die while huddled away in a tiny room that fills Josephine with dread, but some restless presence also demands her attention. Marta, like Josephine, an independent and clear-thinking woman of the 1930s, doesn’t dismiss the idea of a ghost in the house. But Josephine begins to suspect that a living person has played an important part in the more recent history of the cottage—and may mean harm to its new owner in this carefully crafted tale of heartbreak and haunting.

Upson’s (Two for Sorrow, 2010, etc.) attempt to engage real-life mystery writer Josephine Tey in a murder is not for those who want a quick-moving story. For more patient readers, the contemplative tone and historical detail yield their own rewards, along with a couple of clever surprises. 

Pub Date: June 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-219545-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Bourbon Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...


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

Did you like this book?