Gilbert’s series kickoff offers an intricate mystery, an interesting look at the past, and a clever and determined heroine.

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A MURDER FOR THE BOOKS

A research-loving Virginia librarian digs up entirely too much information for her own good.

After a nasty breakup with her boyfriend, a narcissistic musician, left her too crushed to continue her job at Clarion University, Amy Webber moved in with her aunt Lydia Talbot in the insular little town of Taylorsford and took a poorly paid but interesting job at the local library, a historic Carnegie building. When well-known dancer/choreographer/instructor Richard Muir appears at the library, Amy and her assistant, Sunshine Fields, are struck by his good looks. But it’s his request for information that could prove Eleanora Cooper innocent of poisoning her husband that really hooks Amy. Richard lives next door to Amy’s aunt in the Cooper house, which he inherited from his mother’s relative, journalist Paul Dassin. Dassin, who was certain that Eleanora was innocent, wrote a fictional account based on the case. Although the jury exonerated Eleanora, everyone in town still thought her guilty, especially after she vanished following the trial. When Amy and Richard enter the archive, they find dementia patient Doris Virts shot to death, presumably because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Deeply upset, Amy does what she does best and begins researching the history of the town. It turns out that her own grandmother Rose Baker Litton’s claim that she saw Eleanora with an herbal containing recipes for poison made her the star witness for the prosecution. Although Amy’s abortive romance has made her gun-shy of anyone in the arts, she warms to Richard, who strives to overcome her distrust as they work together to solve murders old and new. A deeply buried secret will provide the clue that closes the case.

Gilbert’s series kickoff offers an intricate mystery, an interesting look at the past, and a clever and determined heroine.

Pub Date: Dec. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68331-439-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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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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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

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