A quick, entertaining, character-driven crime novel with a somewhat old-fashioned feel.

Malrooneys

TALES OF BASILICA HILL

An Irish-American family searches for a wayward member in this crime and family drama.

Merremount’s debut opens with the apparent death of Finn Malrooney in a house explosion in 1990s Boston. When no body is found, however, many people doubt that Finn is truly dead—including the members of his somewhat eccentric and often violent extended family. Finn’s mother, a Catholic woman of unsound mind who’s fond of quoting both the Bible and literary classics, sets her husband, Da, on the case. Da has some shady business dealings of his own, so he soon enlists other clan members in the investigation, including his sons and his grandson Michael. Finn was a high-level drug dealer involved in sketchy dealings with some Russians, so he has good reasons for not wanting to be found; as a result, tracking him down proves more dangerous than the Malrooneys expected. An extended cast of quirky, eccentric characters, including cops, lawyers and a homeless alcoholic, help round out this novel, and their various backstories give it extra dimension and atmosphere. For example, the description of Michael’s bar, The Fat Guy in the Hawaiian Shirt, begins with its first owner in 1915 and goes through several decades, simultaneously providing a glimpse of the city’s history. The quick, punchy dialogue, however, sometimes feels a bit stilted; at one point, for example, one character tells another, “Your vocabulary has been in obvious decline since Groton; from which I believe you matriculated only because of a rather Herculean tutoring effort by myself.” The book’s dramatic ending leaves room for a possible sequel.

A quick, entertaining, character-driven crime novel with a somewhat old-fashioned feel.

Pub Date: June 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0692225103

Page Count: 282

Publisher: Cat Scratch Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2014

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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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Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

OUT OF RANGE

Crime-fighting Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett outdoes himself during a temporary transfer from sleepy Saddlestring to fashionable Jackson Hole.

Will Jensen, the Jackson game warden, was a great guy and a model warden, but once his wife left him six months ago, he spiraled into madness and suicide, and now Joe’s been called to replace him. The transition is anything but smooth. There’s no question of Joe’s family coming with him, so he’s reduced to hoping he can get a signal for the cell-phone calls he squeezes into his busy schedule. En route to his new posting, Joe has to pursue a marauding grizzly. He arrives to meet a formidable series of challenges. Cantankerous outfitter Smoke Van Horn wants to go on attracting elk with illegal salt licks without the new warden’s interference. Animal Liberation Network activist Pi Stevenson wants him to publicize her cause and adopt a vegan diet. Developer Don Ennis wants to open a housing development for millionaires who like their meat free of additives. Ennis’s trophy wife Stella simply wants Joe—and he wants her back. As he wrestles with these demands, and with a supervisor riled over Joe’s track record of destroying government property in pursuit of bad guys (Trophy Hunt, 2004, etc.), Joe slowly becomes convinced that Will did not kill himself.

Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

Pub Date: May 5, 2005

ISBN: 0-399-15291-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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