A full-throated exposé with perhaps too many enforcers and avengers for comfort.

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DEAD AT FIRST SIGHT

Detective Superintendent Roy Grace’s 15th outing focuses on the dark side of internet dating, which is darker than you can imagine.

Dieter Haas, Munich divorcée Lena Welch’s online beau; Richie Griffiths, widowed Lynda Merrill’s digital suitor; Norbert Petersen, Suzy Driver’s dishy crush; and Evelyne Desota, retired NYPD detective Matthew Sorokin’s would-be mate, all have two things in common. They’ve extracted thousands from the lovers who’ve never met them, and they don’t exist. The scam romances have been expertly coordinated by Jules de Copeland, ne Tunde Oganjimi, and his cousin Kofi Okonjo, aka Dunstan Ogwang, a pair of Ghanaians convinced that their actions are morally justified by the West’s centuries of imperialism and alarmingly willing to cover their tracks by whatever violent means necessary. Even though most of their victims are left too shocked, too ashamed, or too dead to say anything, Grace and the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team soon get on the scamsters’ trails. So do Jack Roberts, owner/operator of Global Investigations; Matthew Sorokin, who doesn’t take his humiliating swindle lying down; and Tooth, a hired killer who’s already racked up a history with the Major Crime Team. As Jules de Copeland closes in on Lynda Merrill and the 450,000 pounds she’s promised Richie Griffiths, Roberts, Sorokin, and Tooth, working very much at odds with each other, all compete with the police for the prize of grabbing and neutralizing him without endangering his woefully credulous target. It’s no wonder that the fade-out finds Grace (Dead If You Don’t, 2018, etc.) contemplating pastures new that promise big changes in the next installment.

A full-throated exposé with perhaps too many enforcers and avengers for comfort.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5098-1639-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Review Posted Online: July 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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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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