Despite Freeman’s earnest enthusiasm for his subject, this sequel to St. Brigid’s Bones (2014) works marginally better as a...


It’s druids versus Christians in a series of ritual murders that rend sixth-century Ireland.

Although Deirdre became a nun after the death of her young son, she still retains her status as a druidic bard. She’s worked to find a balance between being a sister of holy Brigid and her allegiance to her beloved grandmother, a well-respected seer who raised her in druid traditions. But not everyone is happy with Deirdre’s double loyalty. Sister Anna, the abbess of St. Brigid’s monastery, seems even more mistrustful when Sister Grainne, an elderly hermit, is found in a bog, garroted with the lanyard of her own cross and with her throat slit. Father Ailbe, who doubles as a physician and rattles off medical terminology with the ease of a modern forensic scientist, reports that Grainne was drugged with mistletoe juice and was in a peaceful coma before her death. Hers is only the first of many murders of nuns, all killed according to rituals of druidic sacrifice. One of the victims is the daughter of a powerful clan leader who demands revenge on the druids. Fearing a rift between Christian and druid and outright warfare among the clans, King Dúnlaing turns to Deirdre, who not only has a foot in both religious camps, but also lives in Kildare, midway between the eastern and western clans. As his designated detective, she has more time to follow his orders (and apparently to invent the Irish alphabet) after Sister Anna expels her from the monastery. When Deirdre’s cousin, another solitary nun, is attacked, she denounces her assailant as the murderer. He doesn’t deny it, even if it means being burned at the stake. But just when Christians and druids alike think it’s safe to leave their daub-and-wattle huts, another murder proves how wrong they are—and Deirdre must summon all her courage to face the threats to herself, her family, and her community.

Despite Freeman’s earnest enthusiasm for his subject, this sequel to St. Brigid’s Bones (2014) works marginally better as a mystery than as a historical novel.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60598-889-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


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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Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.


Crime-fighting Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett outdoes himself during a temporary transfer from sleepy Saddlestring to fashionable Jackson Hole.

Will Jensen, the Jackson game warden, was a great guy and a model warden, but once his wife left him six months ago, he spiraled into madness and suicide, and now Joe’s been called to replace him. The transition is anything but smooth. There’s no question of Joe’s family coming with him, so he’s reduced to hoping he can get a signal for the cell-phone calls he squeezes into his busy schedule. En route to his new posting, Joe has to pursue a marauding grizzly. He arrives to meet a formidable series of challenges. Cantankerous outfitter Smoke Van Horn wants to go on attracting elk with illegal salt licks without the new warden’s interference. Animal Liberation Network activist Pi Stevenson wants him to publicize her cause and adopt a vegan diet. Developer Don Ennis wants to open a housing development for millionaires who like their meat free of additives. Ennis’s trophy wife Stella simply wants Joe—and he wants her back. As he wrestles with these demands, and with a supervisor riled over Joe’s track record of destroying government property in pursuit of bad guys (Trophy Hunt, 2004, etc.), Joe slowly becomes convinced that Will did not kill himself.

Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

Pub Date: May 5, 2005

ISBN: 0-399-15291-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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