Murder is definitely at the back of the house in Poppy’s second case, with jousting between exes firmly planted in the front.

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From the Poppy Markham: Culinary Cop series , Vol. 2

A health inspector finds murder in an over-the-top concept restaurant.

Who says vegetarians don’t really like food? Texas vegan Poppy Markham has built her life around edibles. As the daughter of Mitch Markham, owner of Markham’s Grille & Cocktails, she earned her chops as head chef. But after a fellow employee set her bedroom on fire (If You Can’t Stand the Heat, 2011), Poppy traded her toque for a job with the food police, issuing permits for the myriad eateries dotting Austin’s culinary scene. The very latest food venture, she discovers, is being built by two of Poppy’s high school classmates, ex-football stars Troy and Todd Sharpe. The jocks have a bizarre twist: offer guests a choice of the last meals enjoyed by a variety of criminals shortly before their executions. But their grisly plan takes an even more grisly turn when Poppy checks out their three-part sink and finds Troy dangling from the second-floor catwalk. Investigating Troy’s death is just the break Poppy needs from trying to patch things up with food critic Jamie Sherwood, who sent their relationship into a nose dive by sleeping with another woman. She also has to mull the return of her ex-fiance, Drew Cooper, who abruptly disappeared into the blue yonder years back, obliging her to fall in love with perfidious Jamie. Now that Mitch has hired Drew as general manager at Markham’s, where Poppy’s temperamental stepsister Ursula has her eyes all over him, the need to keep a delicate balance between two gorgeous but unreliable guys makes solving a murder look as easy to Poppy as inspecting a hot dog stand.

Murder is definitely at the back of the house in Poppy’s second case, with jousting between exes firmly planted in the front.

Pub Date: July 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7387-2795-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Midnight Ink/Llewellyn

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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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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