Neither case offers much in the way of surprises, and Kendrick’s troubles end up getting elbowed aside. Page for page,...

FALSE TESTIMONY

Remember Chandra Levy, the vanished congressional intern who was knocked off the front pages by 9/11? Connors does, and she’s fictionalized her to provide half of Cape Cod attorney Marty Nickerson’s latest round of legal intrigue.

Rumor has it that Sen. Charles Kendrick (D–Mass.) is planning a run for the presidency. But when his favorite staffer and spokesperson, Michelle Forrester, 25, goes missing, the rumors turn uglier. Was he romantically involved with the young woman? Did his wife and neighbors know anything about their liaison that Barnstable County District Attorney Geraldine Schilling could use against him? Will he take the advice Marty gives him when he calls her for advice and shut up instead of rushing to give the authorities statements that might be used against him? The answer to that last question, of course, is no, and soon enough the senator is facing a charge for murder. By the time he’s arraigned, however, Marty and Harry Madigan, her partner and lover, will already have gone 15 rounds with the world’s worst defendant: Derrick Holliston, who’s accused of stabbing Father Frank McMahon eight times and taking off with the Christmas Eve collection. Holliston’s defense: When he went to the rectory looking for work, Father McMahon, 57, came on to him and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Marty, who’s had lots of experience working with clients she doesn’t trust (Maximum Security, 2004, etc.), mostly sits by while Harry does his best to rescue Holliston from himself. It’s not pretty, but it’s pretty funny, especially when the client works out a clever way of telling his story in court without opening himself to cross-examination.

Neither case offers much in the way of surprises, and Kendrick’s troubles end up getting elbowed aside. Page for page, though, Connors continues to be one of the most entertaining writers on the courthouse circuit.

Pub Date: July 26, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-6197-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2005

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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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