MacNeal (The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent, 2014, etc.) paints an engrossing portrait of a country on the verge of war, with...

MRS. ROOSEVELT'S CONFIDANTE

In 1941, Christmas offers hope for a beleaguered Great Britain but no peace for an English spy.

Now that Japan has attacked the U.S., President Franklin Delano Roosevelt can declare war on the Axis, and Winston Churchill has made a secret trip to Washington to discuss strategy. After starting as Churchill’s secretary, brilliant math major Maggie Hope has graduated to become an accomplished spy. Raised in Boston by her American aunt after the supposed deaths of her parents, she now knows that her father is a codebreaker for Great Britain and her mother’s a Nazi spy imprisoned in England. Arriving at the White House, she’s sucked into helping Eleanor Roosevelt when they go check up on Mrs. Roosevelt’s missing secretary, Blanche Balfour, a Southern belle whose boyfriend is urging her to help him create a scandal. Maggie and Eleanor find Blanche dead in her bathtub, her wrists slit. The setup screams suicide, but Maggie is suspicious enough to remove a writing pad from Blanche’s room. Judicious use of a pencil shows that a letter written on the pad accused Eleanor of trying to kiss Blanche. Maggie also becomes involved in the cause of Wendell Cotton, a black man on death row in Virginia, whom an all-white jury has convicted of murder and sentenced to die. Mrs. Roosevelt is eager to save him, but her husband refuses to interfere because he needs Southern support for the war effort. While Churchill and Roosevelt huddle, Maggie’s former lover, Flight Lt. John Sterling, another of Churchill’s aides, is sent to California to drum up publicity and work with Walt Disney on a cartoon Sterling created. Maggie remains in D.C., assisted by a reporter who was once her old college friend, to wrestle with Blanche’s murder and Cotton’s fate.

MacNeal (The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent, 2014, etc.) paints an engrossing portrait of a country on the verge of war, with many laws suspended and prejudice rife—a world not that much different from today.

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8041-7870-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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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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Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

OUT OF RANGE

Crime-fighting Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett outdoes himself during a temporary transfer from sleepy Saddlestring to fashionable Jackson Hole.

Will Jensen, the Jackson game warden, was a great guy and a model warden, but once his wife left him six months ago, he spiraled into madness and suicide, and now Joe’s been called to replace him. The transition is anything but smooth. There’s no question of Joe’s family coming with him, so he’s reduced to hoping he can get a signal for the cell-phone calls he squeezes into his busy schedule. En route to his new posting, Joe has to pursue a marauding grizzly. He arrives to meet a formidable series of challenges. Cantankerous outfitter Smoke Van Horn wants to go on attracting elk with illegal salt licks without the new warden’s interference. Animal Liberation Network activist Pi Stevenson wants him to publicize her cause and adopt a vegan diet. Developer Don Ennis wants to open a housing development for millionaires who like their meat free of additives. Ennis’s trophy wife Stella simply wants Joe—and he wants her back. As he wrestles with these demands, and with a supervisor riled over Joe’s track record of destroying government property in pursuit of bad guys (Trophy Hunt, 2004, etc.), Joe slowly becomes convinced that Will did not kill himself.

Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

Pub Date: May 5, 2005

ISBN: 0-399-15291-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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