A thought-provoking dissection of a modern India, though one with an unsatisfying conclusion.



Swarup (Six Suspects, 2009, etc.) intrigues and mystifies with a tale from the great colossus that's modern-day India.

Swarup debuted with Q & A, which became the hit film Slumdog Millionaire. Here, he leaves Mumbai’s poor behind and joins a middle-class, well-educated Delhi family in extremis. Once again, it’s 21st-century India—cellphones, industrial bounty, ambitious consumerism—overlaid on a patriarchal rural society plagued by abuse and forced marriage. There may be satire here, but it’s gentle and empathetic. With their ailing mother, sisters Sapna and Neha Sinha, new to Delhi, reside in "the colony," a vast apartment complex. Neha lusts after Bollywood. To support the family and Neha’s university education, Sapna, English degree in hand, clerks in an electronics store. At a shrine to Goddess Durga, she encounters Vinay Mohan Acharya, owner of the billion-dollar ABC Group; out of the blue, Acharya says he wants her to be ABC’s new CEO. There is, however, a matter of seven life tests. And thus begins Sapna’s journey, a meditation on money, ambition and fame in an arena where ancient socioethical values are under siege. In this new India, "Hope is a recreational drug," but everyone knows "their destinies are no longer fettered by a morass of caste and class." Characters are lively: Neha is the perfect Indian valley girl; Nirmala Ben is a widow, "quite possibly the world’s only Gandhian kleptomaniac," who goes on a hunger strike against a corrupt conglomerate; Karan, beguiling and gentle, is first Sapna’s crush then her supportive gay friend until his wicked secret is revealed. As relevant back story unfolds about her father’s death and another sister’s suicide, Sapna passes Acharya’s tests, but what she gains is self-knowledge rather than wealth; unfortunately, this thoughtful conclusion is soon oddly framed by two murders, one years ago and the other current. 

A thought-provoking dissection of a modern India, though one with an unsatisfying conclusion.

Pub Date: July 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-250-04555-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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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. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An appealing new heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a memorably nightmarish family make this one of Box’s best.

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The creator of Wyoming Fish and Game Warden Joe Pickett (Wolf Pack, 2019, etc.) launches a new series starring a female private eye who messes with a powerful family and makes everyone involved rue the day.

Cassie Dewell’s been taking a monthly retainer from Bozeman attorney Rachel Mitchell for investigations of one sort and another, but she really doesn’t want to look into the case of Rachel’s newest client. That’s partly because Blake Kleinsasser, the fourth-generation firstborn of a well-established ranching family who moved to New York and made his own bundle before returning back home, comes across as a repellent jerk and partly because all the evidence indicates that he raped Franny Porché, his 15-year-old niece. And there’s plenty of evidence, from a rape kit showing his DNA to a lengthy, plausible statement from Franny. But Cassie owes Rachel, and Rachel tells her she doesn’t have to dig up exculpatory evidence, just follow the trail where it leads so that she can close off every other possibility. So Cassie agrees even though there’s an even more compelling reason not to: The Kleinsassers—Horst II and Margaret and their three other children, John Wayne, Rand, and Cheyenne, Franny’s thrice-divorced mother—are not only toxic, but viperishly dangerous to Blake and now Cassie. Everyone in Lochsa County, from Sheriff Ben Wagy on down, is in their pockets, and everyone Cassie talks to, from the Kleinsassers to the local law, finds new ways to make her life miserable. But Cassie, an ex-cop single mother, isn’t one to back down, especially since she wonders why anyone would take all the trouble to stop an investigation of a case that was as rock-solid as this one’s supposed to be.

An appealing new heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a memorably nightmarish family make this one of Box’s best.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-05105-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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