The creator of amateur sleuth Tucker Sinclair (Short Change, 2007, etc.) re-ups her tough-girl cred. Despite an egregious...

OUTSIDE THE WIRE

The LAPD’s Davie Richards deals with the aftermath of a police-involved shooting by investigating a serial killing.

The shooting of retired Army Ranger Zeke Woodrow in a parking garage just outside LAX seems at first like a one-off. But as Davie and her partner, Jason Vaughn, start to probe the murder, they uncover a pattern too odd to be coincidental. Juno Karst, a fellow Ranger from Zeke’s Vietnam days—and now a fellow contractor for TidePool Security Consultants—is found outside Las Vegas with a bullet through his head. The local sheriff tags it a suicide, but Davie isn’t buying it, and she’s alarmed enough to reach out to a third member of the Ranger unit, Harlan Cormack, who lives off the grid in a trailer in the Mohave Desert. She arrives at Harlan’s trailer out in the desert too late to stop a third killing. But as she races to stop the mayhem, Davie begins to shed the protective layers she’d built up after she killed a suspect to save a fellow officer (Pacific Homicide, 2016). She accepts her partner’s offers to share a meal or a drink after-hours. She casts an approving eye over steely Jon Striker of Homicide Special Section, where she and Vaughn are eventually detailed. She even opens her home to Hootch, Zeke’s cat. But her greatest leap forward is being able to understand the tie that bound Zeke, Juno, Harlan, and the fourth member of their squad, Dag Lunds, into a band of brothers whose loyalty to each other reaches past the grave.

The creator of amateur sleuth Tucker Sinclair (Short Change, 2007, etc.) re-ups her tough-girl cred. Despite an egregious blunder on the subject of genetics, Smiley’s second LAPD entry moves the plot as deftly as she moves the reader, with lots of action and just enough heart.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7387-5235-8

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Midnight Ink/Llewellyn

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...

BADLANDS

Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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