A thought-provoking mystery with credible dialogue and convincing characters.



In Towler’s debut novel, a small-town Louisiana university professor encounters “all kinds of weird” when she’s drawn into a bizarre investigation.

Forensic anthropologist and college professor Lula Logan has a curvy figure and unpolished nails “long enough to pick up a bone shard.” Lula’s ex-lover, Detective Devon Lemonde, needs her help finding the body that belongs to a severed finger delivered to police headquarters. Although Lula would rather concentrate on her research and classes than help Devon, the mystery draws her in. Another digit turns up at a local movie production company run by avid traveler Preston Pratt and his diminutive partner, Blaine Dworkin. It employs an unusual group of people, including Sherry, a beautiful drug distributor and one of Lula’s students; neck-tattooed pretty-boy Juanito; and teenage landscaper/wannabe-rapper Melvyn. Lula gives Melvyn a ride home from work and meets his single mother, Bebe Armstrong. That night, the women enjoy drink-enhanced girl talk that readers will find entirely genuine. The same goes for Lula’s yearning for Devon, who previously betrayed her by not revealing his marital status; although he’s still married, he still tries to woo Lula back. But at the town’s annual Hot Sauce Festival, she catches the eye of U.S. Rep. Ambrose Girabeaux, who’s pretty hot himself. As the investigation grows darker, major characters meet untimely ends, but the novel’s rich content offer readers much more than mere murder. The focus of Lula’s academic research, for example, is discovering scientific evidence of atrocities suffered by slaves. Other subplots touch on subjects as diverse as revising copyright legislation and planning for a natural-gas pipeline. Although it’s not front and center, the subject of race consistently ripples beneath the surface. For instance, the African-American Lula feels that the white officers working with her think of her only as “a black female cadaver-digger,” and one cop, convinced he’s not a racist, says that he’s “just not interested in anyone who isn’t white.”

A thought-provoking mystery with credible dialogue and convincing characters.

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9968772-1-3

Page Count: 358

Publisher: Inimitable Press

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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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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