Hopefully, a sequel won’t be far behind.

AN UNATTENDED DEATH

A rural Washington state sheriff’s detective believes a murder has been committed in her jurisdiction in Jenkins’ captivating third novel (Cruise Control, 2002, etc.).

A body is discovered floating in the slough on the property of a wealthy family’s vacation home, and Irene Chavez receives the case by default. Everyone else in the department is on another assignment, so it pretty much falls to her to investigate. Chavez and her son have moved back to her childhood home from Los Angeles, where following the death of her husband, she found it more and more difficult to raise her son, Victor, in a safe environment. The current case she’s dealing with turns out to be one that involves an unattended death that she’s pretty certain is murder. Twenty-nine-year-old psychiatrist Anne Paris, the golden girl in a prominent family of physicians, was last seen going out in her brother’s boat before a violent storm. Now, her body is found, and the probable cause of death is a blow to the back of the skull—and it’s not likely that it was made by the boat’s boom. Irene must investigate and interview the usual list of subjects: Anne’s broken father, her half siblings and their families, Anne’s boyfriend and best friend, the rich neighbor, a colleague and her landlord from Boston, the location of the mental institutaion where she worked. It seems that many had motive and opportunity, but there’s little evidence to connect any of the suspects to a crime. Jenkins’ deft use of plot and character skillfully advances the story, and her all-too-human protagonist, Chavez, is credible and identifiable as she strives to solve the case and reconcile her duties as a law enforcement officer and a single parent. A product of working-class parents, she’s not your typical glamorous heroine, but someone who’s low key, trying to balance work and home life, all too aware of her limitations and slightly uncomfortable around those who’ve grown up outside her social sphere. And she works hard for the solution, which is logical and realistic.

Hopefully, a sequel won’t be far behind.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-57962-284-8

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Permanent Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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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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