Tight pacing and no-nonsense prose save an otherwise cookie-cutter thriller.



A cop hunts a serial killer in New Orleans.

In spite of his checkered past, Frank Renzi is a good cop. He’s hardworking, conscientious, dedicated, honorable–just the sort of person any city would want out on the streets hunting criminals. But this time Renzi may have met his match in “the sinner.” The serial killer is a Catholic priest, warped by a dark childhood of torture and humiliation at the hands of a cruel nanny, unable to resist a compulsion to inflict his inner pain on innocent women. The sinner commits a series of ritualistic murders he refers to as “absolutions,” which always end with the post-mortem removal of his victim’s tongue. But he covers his tracks thoroughly, leaving the police with few clues. That doesn’t stop Burke Norris, the overbearing and publicity-hungry FBI agent in charge of the investigation, from looking for an African-American suspect. The city’s seething divisions rise to the surface when reporter Rona Jefferson insists the search for a black suspect is racially motivated. For reasons of her own, she repeatedly and confrontationally uses her column to urge the police to look for a white priest, putting the Catholic community on edge. Into these treacherous waters steps Renzi, a dedicated cop with dark secrets in his past. Throw in a twisted serial killer who suffered psycho-sexual abuse as a child, opportunistic reporters and cops more interested in advancing their own agendas than getting to the truth for a clichéd plot line and stereotyped characters. Even the librarian in this book is a woman in her 60s who wears “granny glasses” and keeps her hair in a bun, straight out of central casting. But the book manages to hold its own even in this crowded genre, thanks to its relentless tempo and Fleet’s sharp writing.

Tight pacing and no-nonsense prose save an otherwise cookie-cutter thriller.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4357-0841-9

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2010

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


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.


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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