De Muriel’s debut offers nonviolinists ghostly, ghastly apparitions, unappealing accounts of unspeakable pub meals, and a...

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THE STRINGS OF MURDER

As Jack the Ripper plies his sanguinary trade in 1888 Whitechapel, Inspector Ian Frey, his boss and patron ousted from Scotland Yard, is dispatched to Edinburgh to help solve what turns out to be an equally gruesome series of murders.

The death of violinist Guilleum Fontaine, stabbed and disemboweled, was so grisly that the authorities would think it Jack’s own handiwork if the notorious Ripper hadn’t presented a fresh victim in London only a few hours later. Was Fontaine’s killing the work of a copycat? Frey and Inspector Adolphus McCray, whom he’s been detailed to assist, don’t agree on much of anything—McCray’s idea of detecting, for instance, is to set the scraps of physical evidence before that renowned clairvoyant Madame Katerin —but they soon come to agree that the Edinburgh killer has a distinct program of his own, one that seems to strike down everyone who dares to play one of the storied violins Fontaine’s left behind. Theodore Wood, the conscientious, untalented conservatory student who inherited “the Maledetto,” his Amati, had better watch himself. So had Alistair Ardglass, the dean of the conservatory, even though he didn’t inherit Fontaine’s Stradivarius himself. Maybe even Elgie, Frey’s youngest brother, who’s come to Edinburgh to play first violin for Sir Arthur Sullivan’s latest opera. Will the salt-and-pepper cops interrupt the florid bickering in which they're both seriously overinvested long enough to put together the pieces and identify a killer who seems to have flown in from the dark side of the moon?

De Muriel’s debut offers nonviolinists ghostly, ghastly apparitions, unappealing accounts of unspeakable pub meals, and a steady drip of Had-I-But-Known foreshadowing and backshadowing. A series seems inevitable.

Pub Date: May 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68177-132-8

Page Count: 412

Publisher: Pegasus Crime

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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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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Creepy, violent, and propulsive; a standout gothic mystery.

THINGS IN JARS

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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