The two unlikely sleuths (The Ninja’s Daughter, 2016, etc.) once again solve a difficult crime, this one with the extra kick...


A return to his home is a painful experience for a shinobi assassin.

Now that Hiro Hattori and the man he was hired to protect, Portuguese priest Father Mateo, have heeded a warning and left the dangers of Kyoto behind, they face new ones in Hiro’s home territory of Iga. The leader of Iga, Hiro’s cousin Hattori Hanzō, has invited them to attend a feast for the delegation from Koga, another shinobi stronghold, who have come to discuss an alliance that could be advantageous in the perilous times they face as the ruthless samurai warlord Oda Nabunaga tries to take over as shogun. The delegation includes Koga Yajiro, Koga Fuyu, Koga Toshi, and Kogo Kiku, a woman who appears to be concealing high status. Unfortunately, Yajiro dies at the table, a victim of poison, and the other Kogas immediately accuse someone from Iga of murder. Other people with access to the food are Neko, the lifelong love who betrayed Hiro; Hiro’s mother, Midori, who cooked the meal; his grandmother Akiko; and her apprentice, Tane, who helped serve it. Knowing the reputation of Hiro and Father Mateo as crime solvers, Hanzō guarantees that they will deliver the murderer within three days. Since Midori had personally prepared mild food that wouldn’t disguise the taste of a quick-acting poison, Hiro must look for another way that someone could have poisoned Yajiro. The members of the Koga delegation are at each other’s throats over the questions of what to do about a treaty and who killed their companion. Hiro finds the whole experience bittersweet, especially as secrets from his past are slowly revealed, changing the way he feels about Neko and his family. The complex rituals of Japanese life must be taken into account before the crime can be solved.

The two unlikely sleuths (The Ninja’s Daughter, 2016, etc.) once again solve a difficult crime, this one with the extra kick that comes from their own personal stake in its outcome.

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63388-277-5

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Seventh Street Books

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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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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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...


A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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