A solid entry in an impressive series.

THERE ARE NO HAPPY LOVES

Brash Buenos Aires journalist Verónica Rosenthal investigates the licensing of adoptions through the Catholic Church—a story with possible ties to the discovery of a truckful of human body parts being investigated by prosecutor Federico Córdova.

Depressed and physically a wreck, still torn over her breakup with Federico—who has stoked her jealous anger by dating another woman named Verónica—Rosenthal hasn't written anything of substance in months. She manages to pull herself out of her rut when Darío, the cousin of another former lover (who was killed in a previous book), beseeches her to help find his young daughter, Jazmín. Though authorities have ruled the girl and her mother died in a fiery auto crash that Darío barely survived, no remains were found. He is convinced his wife, with whom he was at odds, fled the scene with Jazmín and went into hiding. Jazmín, it turns out, was adopted—one of many babies from struggling families in northern Argentina who were illicitly placed by the church with well-off families, Rosenthal learns. Even more alarmingly, some of those babies were the result of sexual abuse by church officials. Teaming up with María Magdalena, a good nun who became an influential journalist, Rosenthal gets a taste of what bad nuns can be like as she zeroes in on the truth. Loosely based on actual incidents, Olguín's latest is driven by the same sense of moral urgency and enriched by the same regional color that lifted his excellent previous Rosenthal books, The Fragility of Bodies (2019) and The Foreign Girls (2021). Verónica isn't quite as compelling a character this time, her trademark sexual interludes unable to overcome their gratuitousness. But the book does a solid job of connecting the dots between narratives and, like the television series The Wire, between religious, political, and judicial institutions.

A solid entry in an impressive series.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-913394-71-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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A rousing legal thriller that’s also an acute study of female victimization and male privilege.

THE STOLEN HOURS

A law clerk still battling demons from her past must rise to dizzying heights in preparing a case against a serial sex killer.

Lila Nash has never truly recovered from her rape when she was 18. She’s cut herself, tried to kill herself, spent years in therapy, powered her way through law school, and landed a plum entry-level job with the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office despite the fact that Frank Dovey, the new prosecutor, has hated Lila ever since she and her law school mentor, professor Boady Sanden, embarrassed him in court. Now Andi Fitch, the aggressive prosecutor to whom Dovey has assigned Lila as an assistant in the serene confidence that she’ll fail, presses her to make the case against wedding photographer Gavin Spencer, who’s accused of assaulting and nearly killing bridesmaid Sadie Vauk. Spencer, a serial predator who plans and executes his murderous assaults meticulously and has a special gift for seeing around curves and destroying the evidence that might incriminate him, is a ruthless antagonist. As Eskens demonstrates, however, he’s cut from the same cloth as Frank Dovey, whose bloodless campaign against Lila is every bit as unscrupulous. Even readers who predict the tale’s biggest twist before it arrives will still have the breath knocked out of them by the surprises that follow. And they’ll all cheer when fragile Lila finally gains the strength to stand up to the oppressors in her life and wrestle it back from them.

A rousing legal thriller that’s also an acute study of female victimization and male privilege.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-31670-349-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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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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