Fans of the bizarre may be intrigued; others will find it annoying.

MURDER AT THE BAD GIRL’S BAR & GRILL

A South Florida retirement community turns into a wild and happening place, full of murder, mayhem and larger-than-life characters.

Residents of the (usually) sleepy community of Laguna Key are battling the owner of the Bad Girl’s Bar and Grill. The owner, a former horror-movie scream queen named Danni Keene, wants live music at the bar, which has resulted in the arrival of Buddy, a suspicious Barry Manilow impersonator, and his dog Mandy. The constant back-and-forth between Dannie and members of the community, which is primarily centered on noise restrictions during the nightly broadcast of Wheel of Fortune, is the biggest issue that security guard Brian Wilson has to deal with—that is until the body of an apparent drifter is discovered in a dumpster. When it turns out that the deceased had a brother, and that brother comes to town with his puppet circus in tow, things get weird fast. Taking her cue from fellow Floridian Carl Hiaasen, Kelby (Whale Season, 2006, etc.) plays her quirks for all they are worth. Buddhism, European circus traditions and the vagaries of aging all meld together in this oddball hodgepodge. Kelby adds madcap romance to the mix: Wilson, who can’t help singing Beach Boys tunes, is hot for the blind Sophie, his “landlocked mermaid,” and Danni, who at her peak was known as “the workingman’s Sharon Stone,” falls hard for circus leader Sòlas MacKay, who sports tiny vestigial wings. But the human element is skimmed over lightly in pursuit of wacky humor, and without Hiaasen’s spot-on timing the jokes begin to wear thin.

Fans of the bizarre may be intrigued; others will find it annoying.

Pub Date: June 3, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-307-38207-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Shaye Areheart/Harmony

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2008

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 15

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more