A timely and totally badass debut.

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SAVE ME FROM DANGEROUS MEN

Meet brainy bookshop owner, private investigator, and part-time vigilante Nikki Griffin.

Thirty-three-year-old Nikki adores motorcycles—and books. In fact, she owns a quaint little bookstore in Berkley called The Brimstone Magpie. She’s also a private eye who takes on the usual cases, such as infidelity, and a former first responder who would meet victims of domestic violence at the scene of the crime, no matter where. Now she has an interesting side hobby: Word of mouth has established her as the person to see if you’re a woman being abused. Nikki’s happy to pay a free visit to your abuser for a calm discussion about the situation. Actually…not so much. Nikki’s visits involve physical violence, but just enough to teach the perpetrator a potent lesson, and these are the kind of guys who would sooner lose a limb than go to law enforcement and admit that a girl got the drop on them. For Nikki, this isn’t just about dispensing a satisfying kind of justice—it satisfies violent urges she’s had since suffering a horrific childhood tragedy that led her beloved younger brother, Brandon, into a life of addiction. Nikki’s extracurriculars can get in the way of her love life, but she seems resigned to that until she meets Ethan, whose sweet demeanor has her immediately hooked. One day she’s approached by Gregg Gunn, CEO of Care4, a child care tech company, who offers her $20,000 to follow Karen Li, an employee supposedly engaged in corporate espionage. Nikki gets one glimpse at Karen and smells a rat. It’s soon obvious that Karen is wrapped up in something much more dangerous than stealing company secrets, setting Nikki on a collision course with some very bad guys—good thing she's more than up to the task. Nikki’s fight scenes are satisfying, clever, and exciting (because Nikki is clever and exciting), and though it’s a crackling thriller, the book also tackles the aftermath of grief, and the scenes between Nikki and the sweet-natured, utterly lost Brandon are heartbreaking. On a lighter note, bookworms will love the references to classic novels, and Lelchuk winks at Nikki’s similarities to a certain well-known literary vigilante; a bookshop regular even calls her Lisbeth.

A timely and totally badass debut.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-17024-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 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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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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