The focus throughout is relentlessly analytical, as if two unbeatable computers were battling it out over the chessboard for...

READ REVIEW

PURSUIT

The creator of the Butcher Boy and disappearing specialist Jane Whitefield presents a bounty-hunter story that tops the genre as an unlicensed killer goes up against his even more dangerous prey.

It begins with the horrific, apparently random murders of 13 patrons and staff members in a Louisville restaurant. When Robert Cushner, the father of one of the late diners convinced that his son was the primary target, asks ex-cop LA criminology prof Daniel Millikan, called in as a consultant by the local law, to help him nail the perp, Millikan declines but supplies him with an even more potent name: Roy Prescott, the shadowy figure who’s made a specialty of tracking down killers by methods the police don’t want to know about. But you do, knows Perry (Blood Money, 2000, etc.), and that’s why he can spend the rest of this long, fleet novel alternating between Prescott’s plans to eliminate the murderer, sociopathic hired gun James Varney, and Varney’s equally enterprising plans, once he hears the footsteps over his shoulder, for decisive countermeasures. The mano à mano set-pieces, from some early skirmishes over the telephone to Prescott’s attempt to lure Varney into an elaborately constructed killing field, are nerve-shredding; only the pat flashbacks showing how each of the two antagonists-turned-killer break the tension. Once their backstories are used up, Perry gets down to the serious business of showing Prescott tracking Varney through a series of anonymous midwestern cities as Varney attempts to cover his tracks by killing everyone who’s gotten close to him in preparation for targeting his nemesis. Eventually, another 13 people will die before victor and reader can share a sigh of relief.

The focus throughout is relentlessly analytical, as if two unbeatable computers were battling it out over the chessboard for stakes of life and death—for themselves and for everybody else unlucky enough to be within range.

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2001

ISBN: 0-679-45306-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more