The no-nonsense heroine has grown quite the sarcastic tongue since the days of the breadcrumb trail, and the blend of...



A grown-up Gretel and her wastrel brother, Hans, take to the seas in their third crime-solving adventure.

Not content with rescuing Hansel from the witch’s oven, Gretel’s supporting him and protecting him from fortune hunters. Not that Hans has any fortune to be hunted. He lives to eat, drink, and gamble, and it’s up to Gretel to pay the bills with her fees as a private eye. When Capt. Tobias Ziegler, proprietor of the Arabella, hires Gretel to find out why two of his crew have disappeared, she’s delighted to take the cruise, even if Hans tags along. True, the cramped, tarry Arabella isn’t the ship of her dreams, especially when she witnesses two of the crew behaving suspiciously in rough nighttime seas. The next day, the French-trained cook is missing. When he turns up, his throat slit, on another ship’s lifeboat, Gretel thinks she knows who the murderer is. Unfortunately, the only other witness isn’t exactly reliable: he’s a riddling water sprite with purple fur, and only Gretel can see him. Even though a beach expedition nearly marks Gretel for death by bathing machine, it doesn’t stop her from stealing a boat and making Hans help her row to a nearby island. There, she hopes to find the mermaid supposedly luring the Arabella’s crewmen to their deaths and spoiling every hope Ziegler, a pirate emeritus, has of achieving respectability by running pleasure cruises. Luckily, Hans has brought along a mer-hund more skilled in finding his quarry than Hans and Gretel, who can barely find land, let alone a mermaid. What they learn once they wash ashore greatly reduces their chances of making it back to the Arabella.

The no-nonsense heroine has grown quite the sarcastic tongue since the days of the breadcrumb trail, and the blend of fantasy and murder isn’t a perfect recipe. But credit Brackston (Once Upon a Crime, 2015, etc.) with imagination, if not consistency.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-60598-946-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Pegasus Crime

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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