BOUND FOR MURDER

Historical research wins out over romance and mystery in this pleasant cozy.

Can a 50-year-old secret ruin an aspiring politician’s campaign?

Amy Webber, Sunshine Fields’ best friend and boss at the Taylorsford Public Library in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is engaged to Richard Muir, dancer, choreographer, teacher, and her next-door neighbor. Amy wants the wedding to be simple, but Richard’s mother is determined that it will be a tasteful extravaganza. Meanwhile, Sunny’s campaign for mayor is rudely interrupted when a skeleton is found on her grandparents’ farm. P.J. and Carol Fields run Vista View as an organic farm, but for a while in the 1960s, it was a commune housing a motley crew of people with varying drug habits. Amy, whose research skills have helped the police solve several murders (Past Due for Murder, 2019, etc.), finds a 1965 newspaper article mentioning the disappearance of Jeremy Adams, a talented musician who’d lived on the commune but left to pursue his career. Chief Deputy Brad Tucker, Sunny’s ex-boyfriend, asks Amy to do a little more research but to keep it quiet since the case could involve Sunny’s grandparents, who Amy’s sure are hiding information. Once they’ve given Amy a list of all the former commune members, she starts digging into their histories. One of them recently died in what seems to have been an accident. When the skeleton is identified as Adams’, reporters stake out the Fieldses, but after a rough start, Sunny, encouraged by Amy, makes friends with handsome Daniel Dane, an investigative reporter digging deep into the past because his own aunt went missing from the area in 1964. When another commune alumnus is shot dead, Amy redoubles her efforts, searching the past for clues. A little help from her friends, including a former drug dealer who helped keep the commune mellow, sets her on the right track, prompting dire warnings from the killer.

Historical research wins out over romance and mystery in this pleasant cozy.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64385-243-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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

BADLANDS

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

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 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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