A masterly procedural with erudite characters and a nasty sting in the tail.

THE LADY OF THE LAKE

Several grisly murders provide a thorny problem for experienced detectives.

DI Sarah Gilchrist and DS Bellamy Heap of the Brighton division are seconded to the short-staffed Lewes District just in time to catch the case of a body in a lake. The neighbor who found the dead man, his throat cut, identifies him as Maj. Richard Rabbitt, owner of the Plumpton Down Estate but not the lake, which belongs to Nimue Grace, whom Bellamy immediately recognizes as a well-known actress who’s gone into seclusion. Rabbitt was much disliked by his neighbors; his estranged wife, Liesl, and his sister, Tallulah, were no great fans either. They learn from Tallulah that Rabbitt and his putative business partners, Said Farzi and William Simpson, were trying to buy Nimue’s property. Simpson is well known to them as a smooth crook who almost ruined Gilchrist’s career and that of her former lover, Brighton Police Commissioner Bob Watts (Swimming With the Dead, 2019, etc.). When they interview Nimue, they find her more than willing to help and are soon under the spell of her stunning beauty, charm, and considerable intellect. But dredging her lake reveals nothing more than a group of empty white plastic containers firmly attached to the shore which Nimue denies ever having seen. Farzi is not only Nimue’s apparently wealthy neighbor, but also a slum landlord and a major danger to her. When a man is found beaten to death in one of Farzi’s Brighton apartments, the police suspect that Farzi and Simpson are involved in importing drugs and slave laborers. Gilchrist and Heap are assigned to solve the Brighton murder while a very stupid colleague is switched to Rabbitt’s case, but, refusing to leave Nimue’s fate in his hands, they slyly keep up their investigation into what turns out to be a complex series of deep-rooted crimes.

A masterly procedural with erudite characters and a nasty sting in the tail.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7278-8967-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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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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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

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THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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