An ebullient mashup/revision/sequel perfect for knowing readers who don’t mind (spoiler) missing the Falcon yet again.

THE BIG MAN'S DAUGHTER

Dashiell Hammett’s The Dain Curse is only the first in a hall of playfully refracting mirrors that also reworks motifs from The Maltese Falcon and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Left alone by the death of her racketeer father, Cletus Gaspereaux (Fitzstephen's version of Casper Gutman, repurposed here, like most of the cast, from The Maltese Falcon), and the demise or imprisonment of his unsavory associates, Rita Gaspereaux (Rhea Gutman) has to survive on her own. When her attempt to bury her father quietly in San Francisco backfires in a spectacular way, she’s left with no money and no consolation outside the pages of Dorothy G., Kansas, a novel that follows 18-year-old Dorothy Gale, Rita’s model and alter ego, around Paris, where her job as a waitress brings her up against private eye Paul Darnell. Desperate, Rita agrees to join forces with Evie LeFabre (Effie Perine), the secretary to Pinkerton operatives Sam Hammett (Sam Spade) and Mike Arnette (Miles Archer), who’s plotting to recover the real Maltese Falcon for which the Russian Count Keransky (General Kemidov) substituted the fake at the center of the action in Hammett’s novel and Fitzstephen’s earlier spinoff, Hammett Unwritten (2013). Although Rita plans to run off with the bankroll Evie’s raised to finance her search, Evie and professor Ted Bowman, her cousin and partner, aren’t nearly as naïve as they seem, and the triple partnership swiftly devolves into a battle of wits.

An ebullient mashup/revision/sequel perfect for knowing readers who don’t mind (spoiler) missing the Falcon yet again.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64506-019-2

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Seventh Street Books

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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?

This one’s an attention grabber. Get a copy.

THE SCORPION'S TAIL

Past and present collide on a trail of death in the second in the authors’ Nora Kelly series, begun with Old Bones (2019).

When a local sheriff investigates the illegal activity of relic hunters in an abandoned, middle-of-nowhere New Mexico gold-mining town called High Lonesome, he discovers a mummified corpse and a fabulous cross of gold. The discovery is on federal land, so the FBI gets involved. Special Agent Corrie Swanson would have liked a juicier assignment than checking out some old bones in the high desert, but she has a degree in forensic anthropology, and she’s a rookie. She persuades a reluctant Dr. Nora Kelly, senior curator at the Santa Fe Archaeological Institute, to help puzzle out what happened to the man, as it’s unclear whether a crime has been committed. Forensics determine that the gold is slightly radioactive, and there’s a pack animal skull with a bullet hole. And by the looks of the decades-old corpse, the poor man suffered a horrible death. High Lonesome is on the Jornada del Muerto, or Dead Man’s Journey, the bleak and dismal trail that connected Mexico City and Santa Fe during Spanish colonial rule. The authors are expert plotters and storytellers with smart, engaging characters—Kelly is an experienced pro who thinks Swanson “looked very much the rookie.” Newbie Swanson had barely passed her firearms qualification, and being a lousy shot may bring tragic consequences and a guilty conscience. Luckily, Sheriff Watts has practiced his quick draw since he was a preschooler. Meanwhile, some of those relic hunters are dangerous men searching for an object—not the gold—unknown to Kelly and Swanson. To a descendant of the dead man, “most people would have thought his precious item fit only to line a henhouse with.” Expect nice twists, hairy danger, and good old-fashioned gunplay.

This one’s an attention grabber. Get a copy.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4727-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

more