Starting with a macabre setup, Cleave keeps upping the stakes till any scrap of plausibility is left far behind and only an...

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A KILLER HARVEST

Nightmare specialist Cleave (Trust No One, 2015, etc.) puts a new spin on the old horror chestnut that transplants a dead killer’s organs into an innocent victim. Make that several new spins.

Life hasn’t been kind to Joshua Logan. Blind from birth, he’s never seen so much as a shape or color. He’s never met his father, who died before he was born, or his mother, who died soon thereafter. And now his foster father, DI Mitchell Logan, has died as well, dropped from a high floor on a construction site by Simon Bower, the sex killer he was after, moments before Bower was shot himself by Logan’s partner, DI Ben Kirk. The only silver lining in all this pain is that Logan arranged for pioneering ophthalmologist Toni Coleman to transplant his eyes to Joshua, who can suddenly see the world in all its glory. At least out of his left eye, anyway; his right eye presents a consistently darker and more unfocused view. Neither Joshua nor anyone else knows that’s because a careless orderly confused the dead police officer’s donor eyes with those of his killer, and now Joshua has ended up with one eye from each donor. For quite a while, the cellular memory he’s inherited from both his foster father and a seriously disturbed murderer seems the least of his problems, for he’s bullied at his new school and stalked by fired deliveryman Vincent Archer, Bower’s partner in crime, who’s determined to avenge his best friend by making Ben Kirk’s life hell, killing everyone close to him—a list on which Joshua figures prominently. But a further series of plot twists shows that the greatest danger comes from somewhere else and brings Joshua’s nerve-wracking double dose of cellular memory back to center stage.

Starting with a macabre setup, Cleave keeps upping the stakes till any scrap of plausibility is left far behind and only an increasingly effective series of hair-raising thrills remains.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5301-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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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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