MURDER AT A SCOTTISH CASTLE

Plenty of suspects and a touch of romance set against a delightful Scottish backdrop.

A bagpipe contest is the scene of an unusual murder.

Paislee Shaw, who lives with her son, Brody, her grandfather, Angus, and their Scottish terrier, Wallace, in Nairn, Scotland, is proud that her handmade cashmere knitwear has been chosen for the new gift shop at nearby Ramsey Castle. The castle will host a prestigious bagpipe competition, followed by a barbecue given by the Grant family. The Dowager Countess is eager to make a go of monetizing the castle with help from her family, even though her oldest son, Robert Grant, Earl of Lyon, is less than pleased. Robert’s already furious that last year, for the first time, his pipers lost to Clan Cunningham and Jory Baxter, their new star. When Jory passes out in the middle of playing, Paislee’s friend Jerry McFadden rushes to help. Jory’s bagpipes vanish in the confusion, and a wrangle breaks out over a possible rematch—and then word comes that Jory has died at the hospital. The police, who treat Jory’s death as suspicious, investigate, bringing Paislee up against her nemesis, the snarky but attractive D.I. Mack Zeffer. Because Paislee’s helped solve murders before, the Dowager Countess presses her to investigate. Paislee’s always on a tight budget, so when a water leak damages her house, she and her family move to the vacant apartment of her friends Lydia and Corbin. Suspecting something hinky about those missing bagpipes, the sleuths go all in to find them and provide the clues that will solve the mysteries.

Plenty of suspects and a touch of romance set against a delightful Scottish backdrop.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2024

ISBN: 9781496744371

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

THE ATLAS MANEUVER

Speculators who haven’t been put off by bitcoin’s recent crash will enjoy this walk—well, run—on the wild side.

Cotton Malone, who just can’t stay retired from international intrigue, joins the mad dance of competitors for a fortune in bitcoin.

So many people have forgotten about the horde of gold the retreating Japanese hid on Luzon Island in the Philippines that it’s not at all clear who has legal title to it. That’s perfect for Robert Citrone, the retired CIA overseer of the Black Eagle Trust, which has used the gold to fund covert operations around the world. Just as Derrick Koger, the European station chief for the CIA, is pulling Malone away from his Copenhagen bookstore to help him investigate possible misdeeds swirling around Luxembourg’s Bank of St. George and its ruthless chief operating officer, Catherine Gledhill, other interested parties turn up in often surprising connections. Freelance assassin Kyra Lhota executes Armenian oligarch Samvel Yerevan and moves on to her next target. Malone’s sometime lover Cassiopeia Vitt is snatched by high-ranking Japanese security chief Aiko Ejima. His former lover Suzy Baldwin resurfaces as Kelly Austin, BSG’s director of special technology, who’s concealing secrets from Malone and the rest of the world. They’re all on the trail of a fabulous cache of bitcoin that in the absence of any legal records of ownership will belong, like the Luzon gold, to anyone who can track it down and grab it. The grandly scaled complications that follow feature countless broken alliances and the deaths of a fearsome number of nonfranchise characters. An extended author’s note explains what’s historically accurate (quite a bit, as it turns out) and what’s fabricated (quite a bit more).

Speculators who haven’t been put off by bitcoin’s recent crash will enjoy this walk—well, run—on the wild side.

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2024

ISBN: 9781538721032

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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