The fifth in Axelrod’s clever series (Nantucket Red Tickets, 2017, etc.) casts a cynical eye on Nantucket’s decidedly...

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NANTUCKET COUNTERFEIT

It’s a good thing the Nantucket Island police chief loves to solve puzzles, because he finds himself investigating another doozy.

Chief Henry Kennis, a poet and LAPD veteran, is slowly adjusting to Nantucket society, with its sharp contrasts between the working class and the often vulgar rich who plant their mansions all over the island. He’s folded his two children into a family unit with his girlfriend, author Jane Stiles, and her son, though the presence of both exes on the island provides constant opportunities for drama. Someone sets the cat among the pigeons by murdering Horst Refn, the Artistic Director of the Nantucket Theatre Lab, a man so widely hated that Kennis expects a hard time winnowing down the suspects. Even Jane comes under suspicion when a neighbor describes someone who looks like her running from the scene. Refn has been seducing and then blackmailing members of the upper crust, at least one of whom has been witnessed fighting with him. Although Kennis likes to use his keen sense of observation to solve crimes, he’s not above using the skills of a computer-savvy officer who turns up some shocking news. Because Refn, or whoever he really is, is using the name of a dead man, the myriad suspects from his current life may well be joined by more from his mysterious past. Alibis abound, but closer scrutiny shows that many are bogus. The Theatre Lab’s current production is a murder mystery whose plot uncomfortably echoes real life. Just when Kennis thinks he’s discovered the killer, new information pops up that proves him wrong. Hacking his way through a tangle of conflicting stories is a tough job, but the introspective detective is up to the task.

The fifth in Axelrod’s clever series (Nantucket Red Tickets, 2017, etc.) casts a cynical eye on Nantucket’s decidedly diverse denizens. Only the most careful readers, undistracted by his satire, will figure out whodunit.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4642-1039-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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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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