This third in the series (The Headhunter’s Daughter, 2011, etc.), based on Myers’ life as the child of missionaries in the...

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THE BOY WHO STOLE THE LEOPARD'S SPOTS

The Belgian Congo of 1958, facing enormous social changes as colonial rule is nearing an end, is challenged by more intimate disruption.

The denizens of the lovely town of Belle Vue are separated by a chasm even deeper than the river crossed by a bridge that connects the whites on one side to the natives on the other. But there are other crossings, some peaceful, some not. Protestant missionary Amanda Brown’s servant Cripple is a heathen, a wise, self-educated woman married to a failed witch doctor. The stunning town sexpot, Congo-born Madame Cabochon, whose spouse is a sot, looks with dismay on the mutual attraction between Amanda and police chief Capt. Pierre Jardin. Into this mix of competing religions and wide class differences comes Monsignor Clemente, a Rome-based priest and childhood friend of Madame Cabochon. Clemente harbors a secret rooted in his time in the Congo as a young priest in the 1930s. The narrative switches back and forth between the present and the past, when twins are born to a powerful chief. Ordinarily twins would be killed, but the chief manages to save them, only to have one molested by a white man. The cure for that outrage is to have all the tribe, and the priest’s companion, share in eating the offender. Then the twins are torn apart by a kidnapping, and when they secretly reunite in Belle Vue, one is found dead, and the sins of the past afflict a town already poised for disaster.

This third in the series (The Headhunter’s Daughter, 2011, etc.), based on Myers’ life as the child of missionaries in the Belgian Congo, is not a mystery in the traditional sense. But it provides a fascinating look at life in a colonial Africa on the brink of catastrophic change as the wily Cripple manipulates her self-anointed betters.

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199773-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2012

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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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