The low-concept procedural, cluttered with nondescript suspects and forgettable clues, is little more than a distraction...

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FATAL CATCH

Will an unsavory catch by a pair of Portsmouth fishermen be enough to take DI Andy Horton’s mind off his mother’s disappearance 30 years ago? Don’t bet on it.

From the beginning, everything about the fishing expedition off Boulder Bank spells trouble. Leslie Nugent and financial consultant Clive Westerbrook had met only once before the outing that ended abruptly when Nugent reeled in a human hand. Nugent, who’s worked for years at a firm of butchers, is visibly shaken, and Westerbrook, after promising to take his boat back to the marina and make a fuller police report, vanishes, along with the boat. Horton wonders if the severed hand could belong to Alfie Wright, a vicious career criminal who did a bunk after forensic mental health expert Ewan Stringer’s testimony inexplicably got him bail. No such luck; the donor of the hand is actually petty thief Graham Langham, who’s surely been up to no good since his release from prison two months ago. To top it all off, DCS Adams, of the National Crime Agency, swoops down and grabs the case, announcing grandly that the jurisdiction is his and that the Hampshire CID should back off. None of this stops Horton from pursuing the investigation, but his heart isn’t really in it; instead, he’s still obsessed with tracking the last known movements of Jennifer Horton, who he recently learned (Shroud of Evil, 2014) worked for British Intelligence and was somehow involved with Lord Richard Eames before she went missing in 1987, leaving her son to be raised by relatives who took even more secrets to their graves. Horton makes further progress in his inquiries, but it’s slow going for all parties.

The low-concept procedural, cluttered with nondescript suspects and forgettable clues, is little more than a distraction from Horton’s continuing quest into his mother’s disappearance. Pray that he solves the mystery before it undermines any more of his present-day cases.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7278-8497-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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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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An appealing new heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a memorably nightmarish family make this one of Box’s best.

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THE BITTERROOTS

The creator of Wyoming Fish and Game Warden Joe Pickett (Wolf Pack, 2019, etc.) launches a new series starring a female private eye who messes with a powerful family and makes everyone involved rue the day.

Cassie Dewell’s been taking a monthly retainer from Bozeman attorney Rachel Mitchell for investigations of one sort and another, but she really doesn’t want to look into the case of Rachel’s newest client. That’s partly because Blake Kleinsasser, the fourth-generation firstborn of a well-established ranching family who moved to New York and made his own bundle before returning back home, comes across as a repellent jerk and partly because all the evidence indicates that he raped Franny Porché, his 15-year-old niece. And there’s plenty of evidence, from a rape kit showing his DNA to a lengthy, plausible statement from Franny. But Cassie owes Rachel, and Rachel tells her she doesn’t have to dig up exculpatory evidence, just follow the trail where it leads so that she can close off every other possibility. So Cassie agrees even though there’s an even more compelling reason not to: The Kleinsassers—Horst II and Margaret and their three other children, John Wayne, Rand, and Cheyenne, Franny’s thrice-divorced mother—are not only toxic, but viperishly dangerous to Blake and now Cassie. Everyone in Lochsa County, from Sheriff Ben Wagy on down, is in their pockets, and everyone Cassie talks to, from the Kleinsassers to the local law, finds new ways to make her life miserable. But Cassie, an ex-cop single mother, isn’t one to back down, especially since she wonders why anyone would take all the trouble to stop an investigation of a case that was as rock-solid as this one’s supposed to be.

An appealing new heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a memorably nightmarish family make this one of Box’s best.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-05105-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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