Though his writing sometimes verges on cliché, Cooper (Desert Remains, 2017) continues to blend solid investigative work,...

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DIG YOUR GRAVE

A longtime unofficial detective and a psychic team up once more to find a killer desperate to make a statement.

It’s not news to find a dead body in a cemetery, but it is when that body has been freshly killed and is purposely showcased in a shallow grave. That's the M.O. of a new killer in the Phoenix area who’s leaving cryptic messages that seem to blame the victim. Even though there’s clearly a lot going on in the killer’s mind, Detective Alex Mills, when he’s assigned to the case, is less interested in the perp’s psychology than in preventing another crime. Both the importance and the difficulty of his work are emphasized when the victim is identified as the very important Davis Klink, the CEO of Illumilife Industries. Not only is Klink’s list of business enemies longer than one man could investigate in a lifetime, but after dealing with Klink’s wife, Alex is almost ready to add her to the list. To help navigate the wide swath of suspects, Alex calls on his frequent collaborator and friend Gus Parker. Gus is a psychic whose intuition could help guide Alex and his partner, Detective Jan Powell, to whomever thought murder was the best gift to give the man who had everything. Now if only Gus could direct his powers and draw on them when he chose. Though he does get a few signals to help guide Alex, Gus isn’t able to get much more than a sense of the killing before the team hears about another body. And in truth Gus is distracted by trying to figure out who’s stalking him and his girlfriend, Billie Welch, a rock-and-roll legend who may have to pay for her fame with her safety.

Though his writing sometimes verges on cliché, Cooper (Desert Remains, 2017) continues to blend solid investigative work, psychological insight, and personal touches to create a broadly appealing series that could capture readers interested in procedurals even if they’re indifferent to psychic woo-woo.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63388-480-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Seventh Street Books

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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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