Inquisitive and down-to-earth, Paislee makes a charming sleuth in this suspect-packed mystery.

MURDER IN A SCOTTISH GARDEN

A class trip involves a budding sleuth in murder.

Paislee Shaw lives in Nairn, a peaceful Scottish town, with her son, Brody, her Scottish terrier, Wallace, and the grandfather she’s recently been reunited with. She’s agreed to chaperone Brody’s class trip to the gardens of the Leery Estate, where she hopes to get a message to Shawn Marcus, the son of Lady Leery and the landlord of her knitting shop and several nearby shops that all face eviction notices. When Shawn’s look-alike cousin, Charles, is shot to death just across a hedge from Paislee, she plunges into a nightmare investigation of the dysfunctional Leery family. Paislee has already crossed swords with DI Zeffer, but his disapproval does not deter her when her livelihood is at stake. Lady Leery is infamous for her much younger lovers, several of whom were on the scene along with Aila Webster, the 30-year-old illegitimate daughter she recently brought into the family business. A little snooping reveals that Shawn, whose kidney transplant from Aila did not last, is desperate for another organ. Charles, the perfect match, wanted a lot of money for his kidney, but Shawn seems an unlikely suspect in his murder, since he wanted Charles alive. When Paislee’s bestie, Lydia, invites her as her plus-one at a fancy company dinner to be held at Leery Estate, she sees a perfect opportunity to learn more about the family dynamics, save her store, and solve a murder.

Inquisitive and down-to-earth, Paislee makes a charming sleuth in this suspect-packed mystery.

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4967-2601-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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Sprawling and only intermittently suspenseful till that last act: below average for this distinguished series.

OCEAN PREY

No oceans in Minnesota, you say? That won’t stop Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers, who are clearly determined to burn through their bucket list on the federal government’s dime.

The murders of three Coast Guard officers chasing a suspicious boat in Florida waters by crooks who set fire to the boat moments after abandoning it send shock waves through the DEA, the FBI, and eventually the U.S. Marshals Service. In short order Lucas and his colleague and pal Bob Matees find themselves on a task force Florida Sen. Christopher Colles convenes to find the drugs the fugitives managed to dump into the Atlantic before they shot their pursuers and arrest everyone in sight. The duo’s modus operandi seems to be to talk to everyone who’s seen anything, and then talk to everyone they’ve mentioned, and so on, taking regular breaks to drink, reminisce, and swap wisecracks. Everything is so relaxed and routine that fans of this long-running series will just know that Sandford has something more up his sleeve, and he does. Eventually the task force’s net widens to make room for Virgil, who, working with Marshal Rae Givens, hires himself out to the criminals as a diver who can retrieve those drugs while Lucas and his allies work their way higher and higher up the food chain of baddies. The cast is enormous and mostly forgettable, but Sandford manages to work up a full head of steam when Lucas realizes that his scorched-earth tactics have put Virgil and Rae in serious danger.

Sprawling and only intermittently suspenseful till that last act: below average for this distinguished series.

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-08702-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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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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