The material on the eternally enigmatic Loch Ness Monster is a good deal more absorbing than the subpar mystery.



Not even her impending wedding can stop an intrepid sleuth from investigating a murder.

Delaney Nichols literally runs into an older gentleman just outside the door of the church she’s visiting in hopes of convincing the Rev. Nisa Bellows to officiate at her nuptials. Delaney, an American who works at the Cracked Spine bookstore in Edinburgh (Lost Books and Old Bones, 2018, etc.) collating its enormous and often mysterious collection, plans to marry drop-dead-handsome pub owner Tom Shannon in a week. When Delaney finds a pack of Loch Ness Monster cards after the collision, Nisa says that they probably belong to the man Delaney ran into, Norval Fraser, whose obsession with the monster has led him to amass a huge anecdotal archive. Norval, who thinks Nessie took his father, asks Delaney if she'll accept his paperwork and continue the search herself. Back at the Cracked Spine, larger-than-life Texan Angus Murdoch arrives with a rare and valuable book he claims his grandfather stole from the store 20 years ago. But when owner Edwin MacAlister arrives, he has no recollection of the alleged theft. When he’s unable to get in touch with his great-nephew, Gavin, Norval asks Delaney to accompany him to Gavin’s apartment, where they find him stabbed to death. The police arrest Norval but have him hospitalized because they’re unsure of his mental state. Delaney, who knows that a Ponzi-like scheme Gavin was running had earned him many enemies, is distraught when her wedding dress vanishes in a store closing just as her parents and brother arrive in town for the wedding. She takes her jet-lagged family on a quick trip to Loch Ness, then her taxi-driving friend and landlord takes them sightseeing while she continues her quest to clear up all the mysteries before her wedding day.

The material on the eternally enigmatic Loch Ness Monster is a good deal more absorbing than the subpar mystery.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-12781-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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

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


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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