Plenty of well-developed characters and a storyline that raises pointed questions about land use. But the stunning beauty of...

PURPLE PALETTE FOR MURDER

A woman suffering from PTSD battles to clear her husband of a murder charge.

Meg Harris’ quiet life in northern Quebec is rudely interrupted by a phone call from a lawyer informing her that her husband, Eric Odjik, newly elected Grand Chief of the Grand Council of First Nations, has been arrested for the murder of his daughter Teht’aa’s boyfriend, who may have beaten Teht’aa so badly that she’s close to death in a Yellowknife hospital. Meg’s relationship with Eric, who had gone to Yellowknife for a meeting and to see his daughter, has been difficult ever since she suffered injuries she can’t talk about in a horrifying incident (A Cold White Fear, 2015). Though she’s rarely able even to leave home, she puts her fears aside and flies to Yellowknife, where she finds Uncle Joe Bluegoose, an important influence in Eric’s life, at Teht’aa’s bedside. She also meets Hans Walther, a pushy mining consultant who claims to be another of Teht’aa’s boyfriends. Meg can’t see Eric, who’s still incarcerated in the remote fly-in community of Digadeh. But when she learns that his lawyer wants him to plead out, she fires him and hires defense counsel Sally McLeod. While she’s using Teht’aa’s apartment, Meg meets Gloria, a cousin of Teht’aa’s with a major drinking problem and many secrets. In fact, some of those secrets and a suede embroidery decorated with sparkly purple flowers may provide the answers to many of Meg’s questions. Uncle Joe is staying with his son, who works for a diamond company and has very different ideas about the use of native lands for mining. While Teht’aa slowly recovers and Eric languishes in jail, Meg starts her own investigation, which will lead her and several family members to a remote island far north of civilization.

Plenty of well-developed characters and a storyline that raises pointed questions about land use. But the stunning beauty of the Northwest Territory is the real star of the story.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4597-3865-2

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Dundurn

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...

BADLANDS

Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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