As formulaic as its predecessor, this is still a good, lightweight read. And we always knew that Poe and Alana would weather...

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WEDDING DAY DEAD

A MURDER ON MAUI MYSTERY

Welcome to paradise, and the further adventures of Poe and Foxx and the lovely Alana Hu, where the only thing to spoil the fun is the occasional murder.

In his sequel, mystery writer Stephens (The Drayton Diaries, 2014, etc.) is back with his hero, Edgar Allen “Poe” Rutherford, who has relocated to Maui, probably for good. Poe was lured there originally by his old friend Doug Foxx, and it did not take long before Poe fell in love with Detective Alana Hu of the Lahaina Police Department (though now they have “issues,” alas). Anyway, the gang’s all here, and here comes Alana’s sister, Hani, and her fiance, Panos Laskaris, soon to be married. Panos is a real charmer, but he has made a bunch of enemies, so we’re not really surprised when he is found on his boat on the eve of the wedding with his throat slashed. The suspects are plenty: Peter Bell, whom Panos had cheated out of that boat; Wes, Panos’ partner in a restaurant, whom he had hung out to dry; Hani’s old boyfriend, Makani, and his hot-tempered brother, Kai. Or maybe Jim, the talented chef that Panos had also treated badly. With no credentials whatever—just like the last time—Poe is on the case. Things take an interesting turn when Peter Bell turns up dead. The incompetent and infuriating Detective Adcock is Poe’s nemesis, but our hero is ever the undaunted smart aleck, one step ahead. The case gets solved and wrapped up, of course, not without the requisite red herrings and late revelations. For an amateur detective, Poe isn’t chopped liver. And we get a teaser at the end that there will be more cases coming. Oh, and Poe and Alana seem to be back on track. In this paradise, not only are all the guys hunky and all the gals gorgeous, but Poe and Foxx are both independently wealthy. A sophomoric dream, but such entertainments don’t pretend to be Crime and Punishment.

As formulaic as its predecessor, this is still a good, lightweight read. And we always knew that Poe and Alana would weather their private storm.

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1505362909

Page Count: 210

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2015

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Darkly essential reading for every genre fan who’s ever considered sending a swab to a mail-order DNA testing service.

FAIR WARNING

A first-rate case for Connelly’s third-string detective, bulldog journalist Jack McEvoy, who’s been biding his time since The Scarecrow (2009) as Harry Bosch and the Lincoln Lawyer have hogged the spotlight.

The consumer-protection website FairWarning can’t hold a candle to the LA Times, where Jack once plied his trade. The real problem this time, though, is that the cops come to Jack rather than vice versa, as a person of interest who had a one-night stand a year ago with Christina Portrero, whose latest one-night stand broke her neck. In fact, Jack quickly discovers, Tina was only the most recent among a number of women who died of atlanto-occipital dislocation—several of them erroneously listed as accidents, all of them clients of the genetic testing firm GT23. Why would sending out your DNA for genetic information put you at enormously increased risk of falling victim to a brutal killer who calls himself the Shrike? The answer to the question of how “predators now can custom-order their victims,” which lies in the DRD4 gene, is guaranteed to make even the most hard-bitten readers queasy. Throughout his pursuit of the killer, the LAPD’s pursuit of him, and his unwilling partnerships with fellow journalist Emily Atwater and former FBI agent Rachel Walling, Jack works the case with a dogged professionalism, a mastery of detail, and a scarred but oversized heart that puts most of his police procedural cousins to shame.

Darkly essential reading for every genre fan who’s ever considered sending a swab to a mail-order DNA testing service.

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-31653-942-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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