Jónasson, who could give lessons on how to sustain a chilly atmosphere, sprinkles just enough hints of ghostly agents to...

THE ISLAND

A prequel to The Darkness (2018) that picks up Inspector Hulda Hermansdóttir in 1997, 15 years before her unplanned retirement, and finds her already just as lonely, resentful, and driven to succeed against all odds.

Ten years after the death of Katla, a young woman who was murdered on Ellidaey Island, an uninhabited scrap of rock off the remote southwest coast of Iceland, four friends of hers return to the island. It’s not entirely clear why securities trader Dagur, farmer’s daughter Alexandra, or perennially unemployed Klara, who mostly aren’t close to each other, have accepted the invitation of software company founder Benedikt to the scene of Katla’s murder. But it’s soon very clear that the reunion was a seriously bad idea. When one of the four not-quite-friends ends up at the bottom of a cliff, the others make appropriately mournful sounds. But the discovery of marks on the victim’s throat indicates that this new death is another murder and raises the uncomfortable question of which of the three survivors—there’s literally no one else on the island—is the killer. Hulda, who’s been off in America seeking her birth father from among a short list of GIs named Robert who could possibly have impregnated her mother during a tour of duty in Reykjavik, returns in time to grab the case from under the nose of Lýdur, the former professional rival who’s now her boss after having risen swiftly through the ranks, his rise propelled in no small part by his work 10 years ago in identifying Katla’s killer, who suddenly doesn’t look so guilty after all.

Jónasson, who could give lessons on how to sustain a chilly atmosphere, sprinkles just enough hints of ghostly agents to make you wonder if he’s going to fall back on a paranormal resolution to the mystery. Don’t worry: The solution is both uncanny and all-too-human.

Pub Date: May 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-19337-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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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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One protest from an outraged innocent says it all: “This is America. This is Wyoming.”

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LONG RANGE

Once again, Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett gets mixed up in a killing whose principal suspect is his old friend Nate Romanowski, whose attempts to live off the grid keep breaking down in a series of felony charges.

If Judge Hewitt hadn’t bent over to pick up a spoon that had fallen from his dinner table, the sniper set up nearly a mile from his house in the gated community of the Eagle Mountain Club would have ended his life. As it was, the victim was Sue Hewitt, leaving the judge alive and free to rail and threaten anyone he suspected of the shooting. Incoming Twelve Sleep County Sheriff Brendan Kapelow’s interest in using the case to promote his political ambitions and the judge’s inability to see further than his nose make them the perfect targets for a frame-up of Nate, who just wants to be left alone in the middle of nowhere to train his falcons and help his bride, Liv Brannon, raise their baby, Kestrel. Nor are the sniper, the sheriff, and the judge Nate’s only enemies. Orlando Panfile has been sent to Wyoming by the Sinaloan drug cartel to avenge the deaths of the four assassins whose careers Nate and Joe ended last time out (Wolf Pack, 2019). So it’s up to Joe, with some timely data from his librarian wife, Marybeth, to hire a lawyer for Nate, make sure he doesn’t bust out of jail before his trial, identify the real sniper, who continues to take an active role in the proceedings, and somehow protect him from a killer who regards Nate’s arrest as an unwelcome complication. That’s quite a tall order for someone who can’t shoot straight, who keeps wrecking his state-issued vehicles, and whose appalling mother-in-law, Missy Vankeuren Hand, has returned from her latest European jaunt to suck up all the oxygen in Twelve Sleep County to hustle some illegal drugs for her cancer-stricken sixth husband. But fans of this outstanding series will know better than to place their money against Joe.

One protest from an outraged innocent says it all: “This is America. This is Wyoming.”

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53823-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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