Blake's (Skin and Bone, 2016, etc.) highly original mystery with a masterly denouement is made all the more absorbing by the...



A coroner with a philosophical bent and a physician with advanced views face some vexing 18th-century puzzles.

As everyone around him in 1744 Lancashire worries about a possible new uprising in Scotland, County Coroner Titus Cragg can think only of protecting his baby from an outbreak of paralyzing fever. Upon the suggestion of his friend and colleague Dr. Luke Fidelis, he, his wife, Elizabeth, and baby Hector move to the village of Accrington, deep in the country and rarely visited by outsiders. They rent a small Dower House from Squire Thomas Turvey, a widower who lives with his invalid daughter, Thomasina, and is obsessed with bees. Their reception by the townsfolk is strangely cold until they learn of a recent incident in which shrewish Mrs. Gargrave drowned in a mud puddle after her rough treatment by a local mob re-enacting an ancient ritual. Cragg arranges an inquest and sends for Fidelis to view the body. Many joined in, but the event seemed to be instigated by Harry Hawk, who returned from his army service with his face so disfigured that Mrs. Gargrave suggested he was an imposter even though his wife accepted him. The bucolic village is far from peaceful. Turvey, who’s fired Hawk as his assistant beekeeper, is quarreling with Mr. Horntree of Hatchfly Hall over a swarm of bees. Cragg and Fidelis find Horntree’s beautiful and unhappy wife at the estate gatehouse, ill and possibly injured, before they’re thrown out by her wrathful husband. The jury in the Gargrave case fights verbally and then physically before tendering a verdict of death by cause unknown. After Mrs. Horntree runs away and seeks help from Cragg and Fidelis but is taken in by Turvey, Cragg, acting as a referee for a violent annual contest, finds that Mrs. Horntree is not the lady she appears.

Blake's (Skin and Bone, 2016, etc.) highly original mystery with a masterly denouement is made all the more absorbing by the skillfully wrought historical background.

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7278-8851-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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