McMillan (The White Feather Murders, 2017, etc.) takes so long on the backstory for her new series that the mystery doesn’t...

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MURDER AT THE FLAMINGO

Two misfits run away from expectations and toward mystery when they try to solve a murder in Depression-era Boston’s hottest new club.

The pressure of being a young lawyer in a proud Italian family has Hamish DeLuca in a cold sweat—literally. Though panic attacks aren’t recognized as a medical problem in the 1930s, Hamish knows all too well that they’re a problem for him, and he hides his embarrassment at not feeling normal by seeking a safe harbor in his cousin Luca Valari’s Boston home. Luca’s excited to see Hamish because Luca’s excited by pretty much everything, which makes him the perfect candidate to open the Flamingo, Boston’s latest nightlife hub. Nor is Hamish the only one who takes refuge beneath Luca’s wing. Regina Van Buren, of the Connecticut Van Burens, escapes her familial home to serve as a secretary for Luca after her boyfriend, Vaughan Vanderlaan, announces their engagement at a garden party before soliciting Reggie’s own thoughts on the matter. Luca treats Reggie like she’s capable, and Hamish, once he meets her, treats her like she’s something special. Reggie and Hamish are both starry-eyed about Luca and the Flamingo, though each has growing concerns about some of Luca’s business associates. When the Flamingo eventually becomes the site for a murder, Reggie’s eager to find the truth. Though she hasn’t solved a crime since finding Jenny Wyatt’s runaway kitten as a kid, Reggie’s self-confidence brings Hamish into the fold, and the two start their apparently ill-informed but ultimately successful quest to find the culprit, even if that means revisiting their hero-worship of Luca.

McMillan (The White Feather Murders, 2017, etc.) takes so long on the backstory for her new series that the mystery doesn’t get underway till the second half. That’s better for readers who are in for the long haul than those who, like the heroine, want to cut to the chase.

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7852-1692-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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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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An appealing new heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a memorably nightmarish family make this one of Box’s best.

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THE BITTERROOTS

The creator of Wyoming Fish and Game Warden Joe Pickett (Wolf Pack, 2019, etc.) launches a new series starring a female private eye who messes with a powerful family and makes everyone involved rue the day.

Cassie Dewell’s been taking a monthly retainer from Bozeman attorney Rachel Mitchell for investigations of one sort and another, but she really doesn’t want to look into the case of Rachel’s newest client. That’s partly because Blake Kleinsasser, the fourth-generation firstborn of a well-established ranching family who moved to New York and made his own bundle before returning back home, comes across as a repellent jerk and partly because all the evidence indicates that he raped Franny Porché, his 15-year-old niece. And there’s plenty of evidence, from a rape kit showing his DNA to a lengthy, plausible statement from Franny. But Cassie owes Rachel, and Rachel tells her she doesn’t have to dig up exculpatory evidence, just follow the trail where it leads so that she can close off every other possibility. So Cassie agrees even though there’s an even more compelling reason not to: The Kleinsassers—Horst II and Margaret and their three other children, John Wayne, Rand, and Cheyenne, Franny’s thrice-divorced mother—are not only toxic, but viperishly dangerous to Blake and now Cassie. Everyone in Lochsa County, from Sheriff Ben Wagy on down, is in their pockets, and everyone Cassie talks to, from the Kleinsassers to the local law, finds new ways to make her life miserable. But Cassie, an ex-cop single mother, isn’t one to back down, especially since she wonders why anyone would take all the trouble to stop an investigation of a case that was as rock-solid as this one’s supposed to be.

An appealing new heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a memorably nightmarish family make this one of Box’s best.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-05105-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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