FERTILE GROUND

Murder is the least of the chicanery at an L.A. fertility clinic in this tautly-moving tale. Even before her fiancÇ disappears, Dr. Lisa Brockman has bad feelings about the death of Chelsea Wright. The waitress had taken $2500 to serve as an anonymous egg donor to Lisa's Westwood clinic in order to tide herself over until she could start earning money as a teacher. Now that she's dead, though, she may cost the clinic thousands of times that amount. Someone has started a rumor that instead of implanting infertile women with their own fertilized eggs, the clinic has been switching eggs, leaving its clients pregnant with the children of strangers. The most devastating accusation—that Orthodox Jewish client Naomi Hoffman's eggs, so conscientiously shepherded at every step of the implantation process by a shomer tasked with insuring that her baby will be her own, are really Chelsea's—is turning out, despite all apparent evidence to the contrary, to be the hardest to disprove. Now Naomi and her husband, a rabbinic student, are going bonkers; Chelsea's grieving parents are preparing to sue for custody of the baby they're convinced is their grandchild; reporters across town have emblazoned the clinic on their Rolodexes; and it's all falling to Lisa to sort out, because the clinic director, her fiancÇ Dr. Matthew Gordon, has taken a powder—or been murdered to keep his mouth shut. Suddenly, Lisa finds her life (literally) threatened and (figuratively) falling apart. Beginning with a guided tour of current research on infertility problems and solutions, Krich (Speak No Evil, 1996, etc.) expertly ratchets up the tension (should Lisa trust the advances of fellow clinician Sam Davidson? What will happen if she goes undercover as an ob/gyn patient herself? How can she disprove the thickening legal allegations?), saving a few choice surprises for dessert. Krich makes use of the suspense formula to put a hot-button issue—the problems of parenthood in the age of fertility clinics—under the knife.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-380-97378-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1997

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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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SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS

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.

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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