A thrilling novel, intelligently crafted.

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COLD CASE CLOSURE

A crime drama follows a retired cop’s frustrated search for justice.

Grant Frazier was a veteran detective working for the Los Angeles Police Department before he was recruited to join the Governor’s Commission on Unsolved Cases, also known as the California Cold Case Taskforce. While stopping in a bar for a beer on the way to his forest cabin, he spots Stanley Krakow, someone he’d investigated for serial rape and murder but was never able to get convicted. Frazier knows in his bones that Stanley is guilty, and he confronts him outside the bar, sparking a physical struggle that leaves Krakow dead. Frazier flees the scene, horrified and satisfied by his grim vigilantism. Months later, despondent over the loss of his wife to cancer, Frazier retires, and his son-in-law, also a detective, joins the CCCT and inherits Frazier’s case files. While Mike scrutinizes the files for the possibility of new leads—Frazier always maintained that the key to solving a cold case was buried within those files somewhere—Frazier pursues his own style of retribution, tracking down the murderers the system couldn’t catch. In time, however, Mike finally realizes that the cold-case suspects keep dying, and they’re all linked by Frazier’s long-standing interest in them, setting up the possibility of a final confrontation. O’Donnell (The Wrathful Vintage: A Phil and Paula Oxnard Mystery, 2011, etc.) and debut author Gaylor masterfully catalog the details of the cases, presenting each clue with scrupulous rigor. The prose is lean and powerfully detached at times, like a journalistic chronicle of true crime. Also, the authors deftly show the exasperating distance that often exists between the reasonable certainty that a suspect is guilty and the evidentiary demands of due process.

A thrilling novel, intelligently crafted.

Pub Date: June 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5246-9495-1

Page Count: 366

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 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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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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