Despite echoes of Thomas Harris, the closer analogue is to Jeffery Deaver’s clock-racing thrillers. And if you can’t wait...

READ REVIEW

LOOKING GOOD DEAD

Det. Supt. Roy Grace’s sophomore case is just as suspenseful as his first (Dead Simple, 2006), and just as wildly improbable.

Leaving the commuter train at Brighton, struggling entrepreneur Tom Bryce finds an unlabeled CD where a particularly obnoxious fellow-traveler had been sitting. He takes it home, idly boots it up and discovers in the few moments before it stops playing and begins to erase his hard drive that it’s a record of the brutal murder of Janie Stretton, the law student whose mangled body has launched the Sussex CID on a frenzied investigation. In short order, Tom gets an email with a dire warning from Scarab Productions: If he tries to open the program or contact the producers or the police, he’ll be killed along with his wife and children. While Tom is agonizing over what to do, Grace is having his own troubles. He’s under intense pressure to solve a case with no clues; the gruesome crime details he’s trying to keep secret in order to screen out crank callers are promptly splashed across the front page of the local tabloid; and his tentative advances to pathology technician Cleo Morey are thwarted by his grieving for his wife, Sandy, who disappeared without a trace nine years ago. Supported by the surprising compassion of his alcoholic, spendthrift wife, Kellie, Tom inevitably phones the authorities and then watches his life turn from a battle against recalcitrant clients and overdue bills to a battle of life and death. Because Scarab Productions makes special-interest films for a limited market, they approach the prospect of killing the Bryces as a business opportunity.

Despite echoes of Thomas Harris, the closer analogue is to Jeffery Deaver’s clock-racing thrillers. And if you can’t wait for Deaver’s next, James delivers the goods.

Pub Date: March 15, 2007

ISBN: 0-7867-1880-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2007

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?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more