An often engaging mystery from an author who will hopefully provide further series installments.




From the The Cliff Knowles Mysteries series , Vol. 6

A case of corporate espionage becomes violent in a new mystery from Atkinson (Cached Out, 2015, etc.) featuring recurring hero Cliff Knowles, a smart, scrappy FBI agent.

Cliff has traded in his badge for a quieter position as a licensed private investigator, and he hopes to settle down to a relatively normal life in California with his beloved wife, Ellen Kennedy, still an active FBI agent, and their infant son. He’s soon contacted by Silicon Valley company Advanced Photolithics, or APL which makes equipment for computer chip manufacturers. Business has been bad lately, and API executives fear that someone has stolen their proprietary drawings and is now undercutting their prices for replacement parts. But a murder may also be in the mix, as Cliff discovers that an employee for Belcher Industries, an API vendor in rural Utah, might have had information that led to his mysterious death. Cliff investigates in Utah with the help of his old friend, retired agent Tim Rothman, and soon winds up in danger himself. Ellen and her partner also get involved in the case; a side plot has Ellen performing a background check on a woman seeking to get a pardon for a decades-old crime, and it turns out that the woman had once attacked Cliff in a drunken rage. This second storyline is well-written but doesn’t fit in with the rest of the tale, even on a thematic level. Later, in a thrilling car chase, Cliff and Ellen go after one of the book’s most dangerous villains; however, Atkinson barely describes another important baddie, despite the fact that the person is the ringleader of the entire affair. The story as a whole is fast-moving and snappily plotted, and it includes some especially tense sequences, such as when Cliff evades a killer in the scorching Nevada desert. Atkinson deserves credit for taking a dry premise for a mystery—the stolen goods are, after all, drawings of gaskets and valves—and creating an enjoyable story.

An often engaging mystery from an author who will hopefully provide further series installments.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-5300-3940-1

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2016

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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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Creepy, violent, and propulsive; a standout gothic mystery.


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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