A fast, fun supernatural thriller that never takes itself too seriously.

THE HOUSE ON WIDOWS HILL

An alien who doesn’t believe in ghosts spends the night in a haunted—or is it?—house in Bath.

The morning after solving the case of the killer in a railroad car relayed in Night Train to Murder (2020), Ishmael Jones and Penny Belcourt, his partner in life and work, are mulling how to spend their time in Bath after Penny polishes off her full English breakfast. Something about being an alien come to Earth makes all that junk less appealing to Ishmael, who’s more invested in his paranormal but vaguely defined skill set and more distracted by the suggestion of Mr. Nemo, a mysterious psychic connected to their last investigation, that he’s not the only one of his kind on Earth. That’s certainly exciting news, but what does it mean? Before Ishmael can think through the who/what/where of his own life, he and Penny are approached by Mr. Whisper, a jauntily dressed man who’s clearly also employed by the Organization. In the absence of Ishmael’s boss, the Colonel, who isn’t available to vouch for Mr. Whisper’s account, the newcomer proposes a case that intrigues the couple: Look into the supposedly haunted Harrow House to see if there really is an on-site ghost or if it’s all a rumor to scare away buyers. Penny would love to confirm her own belief in ghosts; Ishmael is more skeptical—sure, aliens, but ghosts?—yet willing to accede to Penny’s interests. Their night of investigation teams them with a ghost hunter, a celebrity psychic, a cynical reporter, a self-proclaimed white witch, and a requisite murder that leads the whole group to wonder whether there’s a human killer or something supernatural afoot.

A fast, fun supernatural thriller that never takes itself too seriously.

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7278-9030-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 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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A top-class cozy infused with dry wit and charming characters who draw you in and leave you wanting more, please.

THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB

Four residents of Coopers Chase, a British retirement village, compete with the police to solve a murder in this debut novel.

The Thursday Murder Club started out with a group of septuagenarians working on old murder cases culled from the files of club founder Elizabeth Best’s friend Penny Gray, a former police officer who's now comatose in the village's nursing home. Elizabeth used to have an unspecified job, possibly as a spy, that has left her with a large network of helpful sources. Joyce Meadowcroft is a former nurse who chronicles their deeds. Psychiatrist Ibrahim Arif and well-known political firebrand Ron Ritchie complete the group. They charm Police Constable Donna De Freitas, who, visiting to give a talk on safety at Coopers Chase, finds the residents sharp as tacks. Built with drug money on the grounds of a convent, Coopers Chase is a high-end development conceived by loathsome Ian Ventham and maintained by dangerous crook Tony Curran, who’s about to be fired and replaced with wary but willing Bogdan Jankowski. Ventham has big plans for the future—as soon as he’s removed the nuns' bodies from the cemetery. When Curran is murdered, DCI Chris Hudson gets the case, but Elizabeth uses her influence to get the ambitious De Freitas included, giving the Thursday Club a police source. What follows is a fascinating primer in detection as British TV personality Osman allows the members to use their diverse skills to solve a series of interconnected crimes.

A top-class cozy infused with dry wit and charming characters who draw you in and leave you wanting more, please.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-98-488096-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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