Filled with surprising twists and turns, this whodunit in a sullen town is a page-turner.

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ANGELS BURNING

A young woman’s body is found smoldering in the fire pits of Campbell’s Run, Pennsylvania, and small-town police chief Dove Carnahan is on the case.

O’Dell (One of Us, 2014, etc.) returns with a captivating mystery. Who hated Camio Truly enough to not only bash her head in with a blunt object, but also ditch her body in a fiery grave? As Dove investigates, she’s assisted by Nolan, a gruff detective with the State Criminal Investigations Division and her sometime lover. Practically nobody lives in Campbell’s Run anymore, not since a sinkhole (which had been lurking underground after a mine fire) opened, sucking most of the town into its depths. Since then, Campbell’s Run has declined, as people with the means moved away to nearby Buchanan, so whoever dumped Camio’s body there must be a local. Even before Camio’s murder, the Truly family had had more than its share of troubles, including incarcerated sons and deaths by mayhem, but Dove is shocked at the apathy shown by Camio’s mother, the obese, television-addicted Shawna. Camio’s sister, Jessyca, a single mother, shows far more concern, although she makes little effort to hide her dislike of her younger, more ambitious sister. Yet under the thumb of matriarch Miranda Truly, Camio’s family clams up. Solving the case is further complicated now that Lucky Dombosky has been released from jail after serving 35 years for murdering Dove’s mother. Lucky claims Dove and her sister, Neely, framed him. Meanwhile Dove’s brother, Champ, has shown up, after his own long absence, with a precocious son in tow. O’Dell spins a fine tale, ratcheting up tension with every turn of the screw in Dove’s life and every downward spiral in the Truly family history.

Filled with surprising twists and turns, this whodunit in a sullen town is a page-turner.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5595-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS

Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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