Bowen’s seventh Royal Spyness mystery (The Twelve Clues of Christmas, 2012, etc.) is loaded with country-house charm and...



Grooming an Australian heir to a dukedom turns into a murder investigation for a very minor member of the royal family.

Although Lady Georgiana Rannoch is 35th in line for the throne, she’s constantly struggling to survive. After her flighty actress mother leaves her in the lurch to spend some time with her latest lover, Georgie’s note to the queen produces a job she seems well-suited for. The queen’s friend Edwina, the Dowager Duchess of Eynsford, has discovered that Jack, the only heir to the dukedom, was brought up on an Australian cattle station. She wants Georgie to come to Eynsford and help smooth off his rough edges. The estate is magnificent, the food is extravagant, but the present duke, Cedric, a nasty piece of work who’s more interested in young men than in siring an heir, refuses to help any of his family members. In addition to her two odd sisters, Edwina is also housing her daughter Irene and her children—Sissy, Nick and Katherine—whose father was a Russian count. Cedric not only refuses to pay for the children’s education and an operation that might restore Sissy’s ability to walk after a riding accident, but is also tearing down estate cottages to build a theater and threatening to adopt his valet as his heir. Jack, who arrives escorted by Darcy O’Mara, the man Georgie would like to marry if they can ever raise the money, considers the whole class system nonsense and would rather be back in Australia. When Georgie finds Cedric with Jack’s knife in his back, she’s certain that he’s innocent of the crime. But getting the police to agree promises to be a difficult task.

Bowen’s seventh Royal Spyness mystery (The Twelve Clues of Christmas, 2012, etc.) is loaded with country-house charm and capped by an unexpected denouement.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-425-26002-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


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.


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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