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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Creepy, violent, and propulsive; a standout gothic mystery.


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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