Like Murder in the Abstract (2010): wickedly funny about professional fundraising; very arch about chubbiness and romance;...

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THE KING'S JAR

A green-eyed detective, an overly protective, rich ex-husband and a dashing TV celebrity compete for smart-mouthed, foolhardy Dani O’Rourke’s attention.

Cadging funds to underwrite the Devor Museum’s new installation to house the King’s Jar, a 2-foot-tall sub-Saharan African antiquity found in Kenobia and donated to the San Francisco museum by billionaire Fritz McBeel, falls to staffer Dani O’Rourke. As she’s juggling plans for a gala dinner at New York’s posh Pilgrim Club for wealthy and politically connected dignitaries while soothing the curator’s catalogue challenges, a terrible tragedy occurs: The King’s Jar goes missing from the vault it had been stored in at Warefield University. Almost as dreadful, if rather less mourned, scholar Rene Bouvier, who’d been charged with overseeing the safety of the artifact, lies bashed to death in his university lab. Stepping up to find the jar and the killer, Dani is stymied by conflicting directives from McBeel and his second wife, Jamie, who disagree on whom the jar belongs to, a matter further complicated when Kenobia’s ambassador, Keile Obarri, seems to threaten Jamie and argue with Fritz at the Pilgrim Club. Then Dani finds Jamie strangled in her tony office. Instead of high-tailing it out of the place and calling the cops, she pockets a key and a note partially hidden under Jamie’s body. The green-eyed detective warns her to behave. Her ex-hubby rushes back from the Bahamas to protect her. The television celebrity seals his lies with a kiss. Lawyers, a former wife, and rumors about life, death and bribes in Kenobia will surface before Dani can curl up with her cat, Fever, for a restorative nap.

Like Murder in the Abstract (2010): wickedly funny about professional fundraising; very arch about chubbiness and romance; and labored in its attempts to make all the plot holes disappear.

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-938938-04-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Top Five Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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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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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

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