The mystery is barely there, but Isaacs’ fans will enjoy another sharp-tongued romp through the New York privileged classes...

AS HUSBANDS GO

What was Susie Gersten’s perfect husband doing in the apartment of a medium-rent call girl?

Getting stabbed with a pair of scissors, it turns out, following 80 not-very-suspenseful pages devoted to filling in the back story after Jonah goes missing. On paper the Gerstens seem perfect. They have a lovely home in Shorehaven, Long Island, funded by Jonah’s lucrative Manhattan plastic-surgery practice (Susie’s floral-design business is more of a hobby). They have adorable four-year-old triplets (in vitro, natch), two live-in Norwegian au pairs and a full-time housekeeper—it’s a pretty great life. Jonah, narrator Susie tells us, was devoted to her and not the cheating kind; we tend to believe her, since she rarely has a good word to say about anyone else. Susie is a trademark zingy Isaacs heroine (Past Perfect, 2007, etc.), happy to tell us all about her designer clothes, her better-than-decent looks and her fondness for life’s finer things. It’s no big shock when she confesses, “I’d never been the plumbing-the-depths type,” but she’s fun to be with and mildly witty about her snobbish in-laws, her dismal parents, the entitled senior partner in Jonah’s group practice and the dowdy homicide chief who rushes to declare the call girl the perp. The semi-snide repartee was fresher three decades ago in Compromising Positions (1978), and Susie’s grief at losing Jonah never has much emotional force, though her determination to vindicate her marriage rings true. None of this is meant to be taken terribly seriously, even after Susie joins forces with her elegant grandmother to investigate the holes in the DA’s case. There’s only one other viable suspect, and when the homicide chief finally admits that Susie has fingered the real murderer, our heroine seems more concerned about not being thanked properly than she is happy that the killer of darling Jonah is going to jail.

The mystery is barely there, but Isaacs’ fans will enjoy another sharp-tongued romp through the New York privileged classes and their foibles.

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4165-7301-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2010

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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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A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...

BADLANDS

Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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