Gives new currency to the phrase “baking up a storm.”

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DEATH BY CHOCOLATE CHERRY CHEESECAKE

Jacobia Tiptree (Knockdown, 2011, etc.) is back with a new job in a new location but the same old nose for murder.

Trading in her hammer for a spatula, Jake and her best friend, Ellie White, have opened a spanking new shop on the main drag of Eastport, Maine. Just next door to Second Hand Rose, a resale shop run by always-trendy Miss Halligan, the Chocolate Moose has been a success since the day Jake and Ellie hung their big wooden sign out front. Even the discovery of cranky Matt Muldoon face down in a vat of melted chocolate does little to stem the tide of customers. Jake and Ellie move temporarily to the kitchen of her massive old Victorian while police chief Bob Arnold checks the Moose for clues, much to the annoyance of Jake’s stepmom, Bella Diamond, who’s afraid all that baking will mess up her sparkling clean counters. So as soon as the crime scene tape comes off, they plunge back in. After all, they’ve promised to create a dozen of their signature chocolate cherry cheesecakes to donate to the town’s Fourth of July auction, held each year to pay for the fireworks. And even though it’s not certain that there will be fireworks, since a hurricane sits poised for a direct hit on Eastport, Jake and Ellie want to keep busy, because Bob’s made it clear that as soon as the fundraiser is over, he’s ready to arrest Ellie for Muldoon’s murder. As her handywoman heroine reinvents herself in chocolate, Graves adds enough physical danger to her comfy tale of small-town mayhem to move it into the somewhat oxymoronic range of the cozy thriller.

Gives new currency to the phrase “baking up a storm.”

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4967-1128-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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

THINGS IN JARS

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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