This delightful series debut is a frisky combination of mystery and romance whose R-rated heroine clearly has a bright and...

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ASK ME NO QUESTIONS

A saucy countess leaves English society behind when she ventures to New York City in 1907.

After getting pushed into marrying an older man she disliked, Lady Philomena Dunbridge is now a widow; she has spent two horrible years in mourning, enlivened by only a few discreet romantic interludes. Faced with several unpleasant places to live, she decides to visit Bev Reynolds, an old school friend in New York, taking along her butler, Preswick, and her newly hired maid, Lily, who speaks several languages and carries a hidden stiletto. At the dock, a gunshot rings out as Bev goes to fetch her husband, Reggie, and his car, and Phil arrives just in time to see a horrified Bev staring at the bleeding corpse of Reggie in the arms of his mistress, Mimi LaPonte. When DS John Atkins arrives to investigate, Phil spirits Bev away. Reggie was a wild sort whose only true loves were his racehorses and breeding stable. Since the ruggedly handsome Atkins clearly considers Bev his prime suspect, Phil plays detective in order to free Bev from suspicion despite dire warnings from Atkins, one of the few honest police officers in New York. Matters go from bad to worse when Atkins finds a dead man in Reggie’s study shot with Bev’s gun. Undeterred, Phil buys several books on crime-solving and uses Lily’s lockpicking skills to search Reggie’s study for incriminating evidence. Reggie’s cousin, his stable manager, and a few other pals offer to help Bev, who, despite the fact that Reggie had secretly divorced her and obtained tickets for two to South America, remains his legatee. As Phil seeks gossip in drawing rooms and stables, she can’t shake the feeling that she’s being followed. It’s up to her to discover which of Reggie’s many risky activities got him killed before she becomes the next victim.

This delightful series debut is a frisky combination of mystery and romance whose R-rated heroine clearly has a bright and adventurous future.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7653-9871-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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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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Child builds tension to unbearable extremes, then blows it out in sharply choreographed violence, even if his plot has more...

ECHO BURNING

From the Jack Reacher series , Vol. 5

Smashingly suspenseful fifth in Child’s series (Running Blind, 2000, etc.) lands this British author’s rootless, laconic action hero in southwest Texas, where a femme fatale lures him into a family squabble that inevitably turns violent.

In the kind of daylight-noir setting that Jim Thompson loved, ex-military cop Jack Reacher has his thumb out on a lonely west Texas highway when he’s picked up by Carmine Greer, the Mexican-American wife of bad-ol’-boy Sloop Greer. It seems that Sloop, elder son of a white-trash-turned-oil-rich ranching dynasty, is nearing the end of a prison term for tax evasion, and Carmine, whose body Reacher sees is marked with signs of physical abuse, wants Reacher to be her bodyguard—or, failing that, kill the man in such a way that Carmine can still hold on to her terminally cute six-year-old daughter Ellie. Reacher refuses but decides to meet the folks: Rusty, Sloop’s racist, charmless mother, and Bobby, Sloop’s stupid, pugnacious brother. Meanwhile, a trio of paid assassins is littering the Texas roadside with corpses, starting with Sloop’s lawyer, Al Eugene. In a set-piece as good as anything in Elmore Leonard, Bobby sends two ranch-hands to ambush Reacher at an Abilene roadhouse filled with 20 other cowboys spoiling for a fight. Reacher walks away without a scratch, telling Bobby that his hospitalized ranch-hands have “quit.” Child twists his increasingly hokey plot into a pretzel when Sloop is found dead and Carmine confesses to killing him. Reacher just can’t believe that Carmine is guilty and teams up with Alice Aarons, a leggy Jewish lesbian fresh out of law school, who trusts him with her car, her handgun, and her life.

Child builds tension to unbearable extremes, then blows it out in sharply choreographed violence, even if his plot has more holes in it than the shirt Reacher uses for target practice.

Pub Date: July 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-14726-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2001

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