A lumpy tale with a retro baddie and too many subplots, but still a step up from Illegal Action (2008). Maybe Liz, who’s...



Who’s trying to torpedo the latest round of Mideast peace talks?

According to Peter Templeton, head of MI6’s Cyprus station, a trusted source has told him that two men, Lebanese importer Sami Veshara and freelance journalist Chris Marcham, plan to subvert the peace conference scheduled at a quiet Scottish shooting resort and cast the blame on Syria. The questions for Liz Carlyle and her counter-espionage colleagues in MI5 are clear: Is the intelligence credible? If it is, what exactly is the nature of the threat? What motives do the two accused conspirators have? Finally, given the stakes of the conference, should MI5 let Syria’s secret service deal with the alleged plotters, or protect and interrogate them? But none of these questions is easy to answer because, in Liz’s world, nothing is quite what it seems. Marcham’s relationship with Alexander Ledingham, who’s fascinated with churches, has a dark side. American divorcée Hannah Gold’s new friendship with Israeli trade attaché Danny Kollek bears closer examination. Aleppo, the hot new intelligence source for Ben Ahmad, of Syrian counter-terrorism, is more mysterious and powerful than any source Ahmad has used before. The wires are crossed between Andy Bokus, the head of the CIA’s London office, and Charles Wetherby, Liz’s boss at MI5, but not for the reasons they think. Liz is even wrong about Edward Treglown, the new man in her mother’s life. Sorting through the thicket of plots and red herrings—some planted by a devious and manipulative villain, others less forgivably tossed in by Rimington herself—Liz, together with her friend Peggy Kinsolving and debonair Miles Brookhaven of the CIA, identifies the likely source of the trouble just in time for the obligatory action-packed showdown in the Scottish hills.

A lumpy tale with a retro baddie and too many subplots, but still a step up from Illegal Action (2008). Maybe Liz, who’s certainly earned it, needs some time to herself.

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-307-27254-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2010

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


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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Creepy, violent, and propulsive; a standout gothic mystery.


Lady detective Bridie Devine searches for a missing child and finds much more than she bargained for.

Bridie Devine is no stranger to the seedy underworld of Victorian London. An accomplished detective with medical training, she sometimes helps the police by examining bodies to determine the cause of death. Bridie recently failed to find a lost child, and when she’s approached about another missing child, the daughter of Sir Edmund Berwick, she isn’t enthusiastic about taking on the case. But Christabel Berwick is no ordinary child. Sir Edmund has hidden Christabel away her whole life and wants Bridie to believe this is an ordinary kidnapping. Bridie does a little digging and learns that Christabel isn’t his daughter so much as his prized specimen. Sir Edmund believes Christabel is a “merrow,” a darker and less romanticized version of a mermaid. Bridie is skeptical, but there are reports of Christabel’s sharp teeth, color-changing eyes, and ability to drown people on dry land. Given that Bridie’s new companion is a ghost who refuses to tell her why he’s haunting her, Bridie might want to open her mind a bit. There’s a lot going on in this singular novel, and none of it pretty. Bridie’s London is soaked with mud and blood, and her past is nightmarish at best. Kidd (Mr. Flood’s Last Resort, 2018, etc.) is an expert at setting a supernatural mood perfect for ghosts and merrows, but her human villains make them seem mundane by comparison. With so much detail and so many clever, Dickensian characters, readers might petition Kidd to give Bridie her own series.

Creepy, violent, and propulsive; a standout gothic mystery.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-2128-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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