Once more, Cha often sacrifices suspense and plot twists for a more philosophical approach to mystery, though she clearly...

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DEAD SOON ENOUGH

Tracking the surrogate mother for a high-maintenance client leads a bright young shamus to delve into Armenian cultural history and the meaning of closure.

No longer a rookie private investigator (Beware, Beware, 2014, etc.), Juniper Song has graduated from digging through the trash of suspected liars and cheaters to actual detective work. Her latest client, Dr. Rubina Gasparian, has some control issues about what exactly she wants investigated. Song is game for the job, though she has suspicions about her assigned task: to follow Rubina’s very pregnant cousin Lusig, who's acting as a surrogate for the infertile Rubina. Rubina has been doing some amateur detective work herself and has already taken the liberty of applying a GPS device to Lusig’s car. Song learns that one of the reasons Lusig has evaded Rubina’s watchful eye is that she’s engaged in some detective work of her own: Lusig’s closest friend, Nora, has been missing for about a month, and Lusig is tenaciously tracking down untapped leads. It seems that Nora’s confrontational blog, Who Still Talks, a forum on the 1915 Armenian genocide and its deniers, may have brought the historical debate from online chatter to something up close and personal. In order to protect what’s most important to her, the child Lusig is carrying, Rubina hires Song to find Nora so Lusig can stay home and let nature take its course. Apart from milking Veronica Sanchez, her LAPD connection, it appears the best thing Song can do is learn about the genocide, the deniers, and Who Still Talks. Her search leads Song down a rabbit hole of complex relations, perhaps involving hazy government connections, though the truth of what happened to Nora may be much closer to home.

Once more, Cha often sacrifices suspense and plot twists for a more philosophical approach to mystery, though she clearly knows where she wants to go.

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-06531-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS

Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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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