Fans who find Gus’ “portable dark cloud” appealing will be glad to know that Coleman (Robert B. Parker’s The Devil Wins,...

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WHERE IT HURTS

Where does it hurt? Everywhere you can possibly imagine, if you’re a Long Island ex-cop pressed into taking a dead-end case on behalf of a dead client.

The sudden death of his son, John Jr., on a basketball court ended Gus Murphy’s life as he knew it. Two years later, he’s retired from the Suffolk County PD, divorced from his wife, Annie, on the outs with his self-destructive daughter, Kristen, and eking out a living working as a house dick and van driver for an airport motel. So one thing he’s not prepared for is a visit from Tommy Delcamino, a petty crook he arrested more than once, who’s not satisfied that the cops have done everything they could to catch whoever killed his son, TJ, a car thief who was tortured to death last summer, and offers Gus $3,000, every cent he has, to look into it. Assuming that Tommy D is counting on his own bereavement to garner his sympathy, Gus throws him out, and by the time his old friend Father Bill Kilkenny, a police chaplain who’s left the church, has persuaded him to apologize to Tommy, the potential client is about to follow his son to the grave. Now it’s impossible to pull Gus, whose depressive streak is matched only by his bulldog determination, off the case. Tracking down three lowlifes connected to TJ—drug lord Kareem Shivers, local dealer Lamar England, and mobbed-up carting scion Frankie Tacos—he quickly finds himself in a whirlpool of sex, drugs, murder, and warnings to walk away. The plot never exactly thickens, but a significant proportion of the cast will end up sleeping the big sleep.

Fans who find Gus’ “portable dark cloud” appealing will be glad to know that Coleman (Robert B. Parker’s The Devil Wins, 2015, etc.) plans to build a new series around him. Bring on the gloom and doom.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-17303-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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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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