Bellotto’s detective, less ironic and more earnest in his angst than his American counterparts, proves a compelling guide to...

BELLINI AND THE SPHINX

Originally published in Portuguese in 1995, Bellotto’s series opener introduces Remo Bellini, a private eye in the tradition of Spade and Marlowe but distinctively Brazilian.

Bellini hates his first name. Born a twin, Remo has lived in the shadow of his brother, Romulo, who died at 2 days old. Since then, Romulo has always been the brother who would have been everything Remo isn’t: an obedient son, an academic success, a lawyer like his father, Tulio. Remo went to law school but hated practicing law, so now he works for Lobo Private Investigations. Like most private eyes, he spends a lot of time getting the goods on cheating spouses. So he’s intrigued when he catches a case that turns the formula on its head. Samuel Rafidjian, an eminent pediatric surgeon, wants to find an exotic dancer who worked at the Dervish, a strip club on São Paulo’s seedy Rua Augusta. After a six-month fling with the doctor, the woman abruptly disappeared, and Rafidjian is desperate to find her. No one at the Dervish admits to knowing the missing dancer. Manager Khalid Tureg says she never worked there and assures Bellini that he’ll never find her because “women are an illusion.” Meanwhile, Bellini finds himself awash in women: Dora Lobo, the boss who sends him on this crazy case; Camila and Dinéia, two dancers answering the missing woman’s description; Fatima, a prostitute who’s obsessed with him; Beatriz, the law student he’s obsessed with; even his mother, who calls him asking him to please make up with his stubborn father. The only woman who eludes him is the one he needs most urgently to find, Ana Cíntia Lopes, the mysterious object of Dr. Rafidjian’s sincere if misguided affection.

Bellotto’s detective, less ironic and more earnest in his angst than his American counterparts, proves a compelling guide to the passionate world of São Paulo.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61775-662-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Akashic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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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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A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...

BADLANDS

Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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