Cozy fans will forgive the extraneous details and Matthews’ naïve style in this debut of a saintly sleuth with some very...

MAYHEM & MASS

Homicide in a quiet town summons investigative skills that a middle-aged religious never knew she had.

Sister Louise LaSalle, of the Congregation of St. Hermione of Ephesus, is worried about theology professor Dr. Maurice Jordan, her longtime friend from grad school. When Sister Lou has dinner with him the night before he’s to speak at St. Hermione’s affiliated college, she thinks he looks tired, older than his years, and definitely distressed about something, although he won’t tell her what. The next day, he doesn’t show up on time as promised, and Sister Lou learns why when she goes to his hotel room and finds him murdered. Despite the reassurance of her protective nephew, Chris, and her friends among the Sisters, Lou can’t help blaming herself: if only she hadn’t invited him to speak, Mo might still be alive. She knew he was a controversial figure in the world of academic theology, and he had many detractors, some of whom even sent death threats. Two of the local deputies start their interviews with the congregation of St. Hermione, but Sister Lou is convinced they’re looking in the wrong place. And with the eager help of journalist Shari Henson and Chris’ more cautious support, Sister Lou—for whom patience is an acquired virtue—takes time from her community outreach work for her own investigation. A conniving business partner, a couple of academic rivals, Maurice’s unfaithful wife, and her lover all come under Sister Lou’s scrutiny, even when pressure mounts from all sides to back off. The tale is bogged down by full-color descriptions of every article of clothing, item of furniture, head of hair, and pair of eyes, but the possibility of romance between two of the characters provides a pleasant foil to Sister Lou’s pursuit of the truth for the sake of her old friend.

Cozy fans will forgive the extraneous details and Matthews’ naïve style in this debut of a saintly sleuth with some very human failings.

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4967-0938-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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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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One protest from an outraged innocent says it all: “This is America. This is Wyoming.”

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LONG RANGE

Once again, Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett gets mixed up in a killing whose principal suspect is his old friend Nate Romanowski, whose attempts to live off the grid keep breaking down in a series of felony charges.

If Judge Hewitt hadn’t bent over to pick up a spoon that had fallen from his dinner table, the sniper set up nearly a mile from his house in the gated community of the Eagle Mountain Club would have ended his life. As it was, the victim was Sue Hewitt, leaving the judge alive and free to rail and threaten anyone he suspected of the shooting. Incoming Twelve Sleep County Sheriff Brendan Kapelow’s interest in using the case to promote his political ambitions and the judge’s inability to see further than his nose make them the perfect targets for a frame-up of Nate, who just wants to be left alone in the middle of nowhere to train his falcons and help his bride, Liv Brannon, raise their baby, Kestrel. Nor are the sniper, the sheriff, and the judge Nate’s only enemies. Orlando Panfile has been sent to Wyoming by the Sinaloan drug cartel to avenge the deaths of the four assassins whose careers Nate and Joe ended last time out (Wolf Pack, 2019). So it’s up to Joe, with some timely data from his librarian wife, Marybeth, to hire a lawyer for Nate, make sure he doesn’t bust out of jail before his trial, identify the real sniper, who continues to take an active role in the proceedings, and somehow protect him from a killer who regards Nate’s arrest as an unwelcome complication. That’s quite a tall order for someone who can’t shoot straight, who keeps wrecking his state-issued vehicles, and whose appalling mother-in-law, Missy Vankeuren Hand, has returned from her latest European jaunt to suck up all the oxygen in Twelve Sleep County to hustle some illegal drugs for her cancer-stricken sixth husband. But fans of this outstanding series will know better than to place their money against Joe.

One protest from an outraged innocent says it all: “This is America. This is Wyoming.”

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53823-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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