The third and best of a finely wrought series (Skies of Ash, 2015, etc.) that gives voice to a rare figure in crime fiction:...

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TRAIL OF ECHOES

From the Detective Elouise Norton series , Vol. 3

Talented African-American teenagers from a poor LA neighborhood are targeted by a serial killer.

Elouise "Lou" Norton was once one of those aspiring teens, and now she's a homicide detective who still hasn’t won the promotion she deserves. Beneath her tough exterior lurk some inner demons; she's just divorced her wealthy, unfaithful husband, and the long-ago murder of her sister was only recently solved. Now Victor Starr, the father who deserted the family when she was a child, wants to make amends. Lou’s living with a newspaper-reporter friend and starting a tentative romance with DA Sam Seward when she catches the case of a dead African-American teenage girl found in a duffel bag in beautiful Martha Bonner Park. Lou and her white, Colorado-born partner, Colin Taggert, finally bond over the complex case as they find more victims apparently all killed by the same clever killer. Lou’s even more disturbed when they discover that the first victim lived in the same crumbling apartment complex where she herself grew up. Lou's investigation reveals that several other missing black girls went to the same school as her victim, had the same guidance counselor, and were despised and sometimes attacked by their fellow students for being brighter and more talented than the rest. Although the missing girls are all eventually found in duffel bags in the park, they were killed elsewhere, moved several times, and injected with bug repellent. In a neighborhood where tensions between African-Americans and Mexicans are ratcheting up, a Mexican with a long record of child abuse is an obvious suspect, but there are plenty of others. Lou scrambles to find a killer who enjoys using coded messages and leaving statues of Greek muses on her car. Striving to solve her own personal problems while in the midst of her most difficult case will only make her stronger—if she survives.

The third and best of a finely wrought series (Skies of Ash, 2015, etc.) that gives voice to a rare figure in crime fiction: a highly complex, fully imagined black female detective.

Pub Date: May 31, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7653-8117-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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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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