As in her two earlier Agatha Christie pastiches (Closed Casket, 2016, etc.), Hannah is content to supply boundless ingenuity...

THE MYSTERY OF THREE QUARTERS

Hercule Poirot gets pulled into a mystery in the most awkward possible way when someone signing himself Hercule Poirot writes four letters accusing four different people of the same murder.

Not only did she not kill Barnabas Pandy, a furious Sylvia Rule assures the famous detective; she’s never even heard of him. Neither has John McCrodden, who assumes that his father, Rowland, whose fierce advocacy of the death penalty has won him the sobriquet “Rowland Rope,” conspired with Poirot to accuse his long-estranged son of murdering Pandy. Annabel Treadway has certainly heard of Pandy—he was her grandfather, after all—but she tearfully claims that she didn’t kill him either, though at least she’s willing to listen to Poirot’s own protestations of innocence. So is ebullient Turville School housemaster Hugo Dockerill, who passes the accusation off as a joke despite his own connection to Pandy, whose great-grandson, Timothy, Annabel’s nephew, is a pupil of his. With all due respect to the obvious questions he shares with his “friend and occasional helper,” Scotland Yard Inspector Edward Catchpool—which, if any, of these suspects actually killed Pandy? Why would anyone trouble to drown a 94-year-old slate magnate, no matter how wealthy has was, in his bathtub? Who wrote the letters?—Poirot is fascinated by a more puzzling question: Why would anyone want to write those four letters in the first place? A series of variously edgy conversations, a proffer of alibis, and another sudden death will intervene before Poirot, skillfully exploiting his trademark fondness for neat patterns, is able to make good on his uncharacteristically rash promise to reveal all in a roundup of the unusual suspects only a week later.

As in her two earlier Agatha Christie pastiches (Closed Casket, 2016, etc.), Hannah is content to supply boundless ingenuity in place of more 1930s detail, this time adding a divinely inspired denouement that seems to go on for longer than the week that leads up to it.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279234-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...

BADLANDS

Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

more