An enjoyable jigsaw puzzle in the Holmes tradition, with gothic thrills and a dash of romance.

MISS MORIARTY, I PRESUME?

The world’s most famous detective must outwit her nemesis in Victorian Cornwall.

Thomas' series continues with the life of Charlotte Holmes, the woman detective masquerading as her fictitious brother, Sherlock, shortly after the events of Murder on Cold Street(2020). While Charlotte; her lover, Lord Ingram; her companion, Mrs. Watson; and her sister, Olivia, are hoping they haven’t riled Moriarty, the hope is soon dashed. The feared criminal mastermind, calling himself Mr. Baxter, wants Charlotte to take on a case involving his wayward daughter, who has secreted herself at a religious retreat in Cornwall. But is that all he has in mind? Left no real choice, Charlotte & Co. begin their investigations into Miss Baxter as well as into Olivia’s sweetheart, Mr. Marbleton, whom Moriarty has coerced back into his web. Tense and atmospherically rich, particularly in the Cornwall chapters, the novel is interspersed with brief scenes of Charlotte and Ingram’s new intimacy, including some chuckle-inducing letters. Thomas counts on readers being familiar with the way Arthur Conan Doyle wrote Holmes’ confrontation with Moriarty in "The Final Problem," but she provides a new (female solidarity) twist to get to that point rather than keeping us guessing about how she's going to adapt the famous ending. It’s an interesting application of the romance-genre structure, in which the predictable climax is less important than the journey toward it—something Thomas knows well as a romance author—but the way she sets up the twist and the ending by switching the point of view to a minor character is a bit clunky. Charlotte herself appears less like the neurodiverse character she's been established to be in previous novels, but her love for food and her loose allegiance to social mores and role-playing are still charming.

An enjoyable jigsaw puzzle in the Holmes tradition, with gothic thrills and a dash of romance.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593200-58-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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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A bracing test of the maxim that “the department always comes first. The department always wins.”

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THE DARK HOURS

Meet today’s LAPD, with both good and bad apples reduced to reacting to crimes defensively instead of trying to prevent them, unless of course they’re willing to break the rules.

New Year’s Eve 2020 finds Detective Renée Ballard, survivor of rape and Covid-19, partnered with Detective Lisa Moore, of Hollywood’s Sexual Assault Unit, in search of leads on the Midnight Men, a tag team of rapists who assaulted women on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve without leaving any forensic evidence behind. The pair are called to the scene of a shooting that would have gone to West Bureau Homicide if the unit weren’t already stretched to the limit, a case that should be handed over to West Bureau ASAP. But Ballard gets her teeth into the murder of body shop owner Javier Raffa, who reportedly bought his way out of the gang Las Palmas. The news that Raffa’s been shot by the same weapon that killed rapper Albert Lee 10 years ago sends Ballard once more to Harry Bosch, the poster boy for retirements that drive the LAPD crazy. Both victims had taken on silent partners in order to liquidate their debts, and there’s every indication that the partners were linked. That’s enough for Ballard and Bosch to launch a shadow investigation even as Ballard, abandoned by Moore, who’s flown the coop for the weekend, works feverishly to identify the Midnight Men on her own. As usual in this stellar series, the path to the last act is paved with false leads, interdepartmental squabbles, and personal betrayals, and the structure sometimes sways in the breeze. But no one who follows Ballard and Bosch to the end will be disappointed.

A bracing test of the maxim that “the department always comes first. The department always wins.”

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-48564-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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