If you think you know how frigid Iceland can be, this blistering stand-alone from Jónasson (Blackout, 2016, etc.) has news...

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THE DARKNESS

On the eve of her unwillingly abrupt retirement, a Reykjavík police inspector decides to look into a cold case that immediately turns dangerously hot.

Hulda Hermannsdóttir thought she’d seen the writing on the wall: When she turned 65 in a few months, she’d put in for retirement even though the deaths of both her daughter and her husband have left her nothing to look forward to. But she’s thrown for a loop when Magnús, her boss, tells her that he’s already assigned her office and caseload to a much younger, up-and-coming male colleague, and could she please clean out her desk within the next two weeks? To mollify her, he offers to let her spend her final days looking into a cold case of her choice—“Any case I like?” she politely asks—and she promptly reopens the investigation into the death of Elena, a Russian immigrant who’d applied for political asylum. Hulda is convinced that her sloppy CID colleague Alexander had bobbled the case, and her initial inquiries suggest that since Elena’s petition for asylum had just been granted, she had no reason to leave the hostel where she was staying and drown herself. When Bjartur Hartmannsson, an interpreter who’d worked with the musically inclined Elena, suggests that her interests may have extended to prostitution as well, Hulda kicks into high gear, much to the disapproval of Magnús, whose desire to pull Hulda off the investigation and put her in the deep freeze intensifies with every meeting and phone call. All the while, a series of ominous flashbacks indicates that Hulda’s stumbled onto a secret even more wicked than she’d predicted—although, as events ultimately show, she’s had years of experience in close contact with wickedness.

If you think you know how frigid Iceland can be, this blistering stand-alone from Jónasson (Blackout, 2016, etc.) has news for you: It’s much, much colder than you’ve ever imagined. Warmly recommended for hot summer nights.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17103-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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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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SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS

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.

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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