A timely and totally badass debut.


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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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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No wonder Scarpetta asks, “When did my workplace become such a soap opera?” Answer: at least 10 years ago.


Happy birthday, Dr. Kay Scarpetta. But no Florida vacation for you and your husband, FBI profiler Benton Wesley—not because President Barack Obama is visiting Cambridge, but because a deranged sniper has come to town.

Shortly after everyone’s favorite forensic pathologist (Dust, 2013, etc.) receives a sinister email from a correspondent dubbed Copperhead, she goes outside to find seven pennies—all polished, all turned heads-up, all dated 1981—on her garden wall. Clearly there’s trouble afoot, though she’s not sure what form it will take until five minutes later, when a call from her old friend and former employee Pete Marino, now a detective with the Cambridge Police, summons her to the scene of a shooting. Jamal Nari was a high school music teacher who became a minor celebrity when his name was mistakenly placed on a terrorist watch list; he claimed government persecution, and he ended up having a beer with the president. Now he’s in the news for quite a different reason. Bizarrely, the first tweets announcing his death seem to have preceded it by 45 minutes. And Leo Gantz, a student at Nari’s school, has confessed to his murder, even though he couldn’t possibly have done it. But these complications are only the prelude to a banquet of homicide past and present, as Scarpetta and Marino realize when they link Nari’s murder to a series of killings in New Jersey. For a while, the peripheral presence of the president makes you wonder if this will be the case that finally takes the primary focus off the investigator’s private life. But most of the characters are members of Scarpetta’s entourage, the main conflicts involve infighting among the regulars, and the killer turns out to be a familiar nemesis Scarpetta thought she’d left for dead several installments back. As if.

No wonder Scarpetta asks, “When did my workplace become such a soap opera?” Answer: at least 10 years ago.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-232534-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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