As dark, soulful and violent as the title would suggest. There’s a real lullaby and some real shotguns.

READ REVIEW

SHOTGUN LULLABY

Auto mechanic Conway Sax’s inconsistent attempts to help a hard-used, hard-using kid, who reminds him of his estranged son, leads to disaster for both him and the kid and for a lot of other citizens of Framingham, Mass., as well.

There’s nothing especially likable about Gus Biletnikov, a small-time campus dealer who’s landed with a self-advertising whoop among the Barnburners, Sax’s AA chapter—certainly nothing that would justify pulping the elbow of a guy named Andrade just for selling the kid a crappy car. But Gus looks a bit like Roy, and Sax (The Whole Lie, 2012, etc.) can’t help feeling that befriending him might be a way of making amends for their spectacular falling out, especially after somebody shoots up Almost Home, the halfway house where Gus is staying, and leaves three guys dead, one of whom he probably mistook for Gus. While Sax is getting acquainted with Gus’ circle—his father, Peter, a coldhearted investment banker; his stepmother, Rinn, who’s about the same age as Gus but a lot better looking; his supplier, Teddy Pundo, whose gangster father, Charlie, would rather be tending to the jazz club he owns; and Donald Crump, a small-time entrepreneur who’s come back East from Houston to settle a score with Peter—Gus is getting high in his room at Almost Home with his college buddy Bradford Bloomquist, aka the Dude. When Sax finds out about Gus’ backsliding, he tosses the kid out, literally, and things rapidly go from bad to worse. By the time Sax is finally able to call it a day, five more cast members will be dead, with the survivors in no mood to brag about their good luck. Sax does come off parole, though.

As dark, soulful and violent as the title would suggest. There’s a real lullaby and some real shotguns.

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-250-02808-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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?

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

THINGS IN JARS

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more