Orchard (A Fool and His Monet, 2016, etc.) creates a likable, enviable heroine who knows art inside out but seems a tad...

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ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER DALI

An art expert takes on a case of theft, forgery, and loopy family dynamics.

Oh, to be Serena Jones! Not only does she have long, wavy blonde locks, a job as a member of the FBI’s Art Crime Team in St. Louis, and the admiration of her dishy trainer/partner, Tanner Calhoun, and her hunky apartment super, Nate Butler; she also has eccentric great-aunt Martha, who serves up a mean dish of frog’s legs. On the down side, Serena is a terrible painter haunted by her vegetable still lifes, and her mother is poised to send out wedding invitations if Serena so much as breathes on anyone with a Y chromosome. And her redoubtable grandmother Nana wants Serena to recover a Dalí painting stolen from Nana’s friend Gladys Hoffemeier. It has to be done very discreetly: Gladys is worried that her daughter and her cop son are trying to chivvy her out of a huge, expensive house and will use the stolen painting as further evidence that Gladys can’t manage her estate. Serena soon discovers that she’s let herself in for a muddle of a case with an ever growing list of suspects—Gladys’ improvident son-in-law, a Russian mobster, an ersatz exterminator, a well-known local artist who inconveniently turns up dead. Acting on overheard conversations, warnings from Tanner that Nate and his brother may be shady, and her own wits to escape attempts on her life, Serena copes with even more than being prom queen at a fundraiser and choosing between Tanner’s brown eyes and Nate’s blue. When it’s not just her own life at stake, but Aunt Martha’s and a young protégé’s, Serena does what any self-respecting, government-trained agent does—goes rogue.

Orchard (A Fool and His Monet, 2016, etc.) creates a likable, enviable heroine who knows art inside out but seems a tad short on common sense.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8007-2669-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Revell

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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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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