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

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more