MURDER ON TOUR

The remarkable heroine’s refreshing lack of aspirations adds to the charm of this modest mystery.

A much-hated author’s publicist is offed by a poisoned cocktail doubtless designed for his client. Who had the guts to do what everyone wished they could’ve done?

Michigan’s North Harbor Book Festival has brought some of the best and brightest to the area, so Samantha Washington is tickled to be part of an author panel even though some attendees might think she’s just a local yokel surrounded by big names. Samantha’s proud of both the launch of her mystery series and the bookshop she runs with her Nana Jo, Market Street Mysteries, even if neither one will change the world. It’s fun to do what she loves and get the stories in her head down on paper for others to enjoy. But that sense of humility isn’t something all authors share, and Samantha’s fellow panelist, bestseller Judith Hunter, certainly could use a dose that would bring her down to earth. Samantha watches Judith go head-to-head with two other authors, one of whom even jokes about starting an I-Hate-Judith-Hunter Fan Club. So terrible is Judith that when her publicist, Clark Cunningham, is poisoned during the cocktail reception following the big panel, Samantha is certain the drink that killed Clark was meant for Judith instead. With the help of Nana Jo and their shared network of connections, Samantha tries to figure out which of Judith’s many highly motivated enemies stepped up to kill the famous author. Interspersed extracts from Samantha’s work-in-progress, a sequel to her first cozy, Murder at Wickfield Lodge, drop broad hints about the killer’s identity before the characters can figure it out.

The remarkable heroine’s refreshing lack of aspirations adds to the charm of this modest mystery.

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2023

ISBN: 9781496739483

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

THE ATLAS MANEUVER

Speculators who haven’t been put off by bitcoin’s recent crash will enjoy this walk—well, run—on the wild side.

Cotton Malone, who just can’t stay retired from international intrigue, joins the mad dance of competitors for a fortune in bitcoin.

So many people have forgotten about the horde of gold the retreating Japanese hid on Luzon Island in the Philippines that it’s not at all clear who has legal title to it. That’s perfect for Robert Citrone, the retired CIA overseer of the Black Eagle Trust, which has used the gold to fund covert operations around the world. Just as Derrick Koger, the European station chief for the CIA, is pulling Malone away from his Copenhagen bookstore to help him investigate possible misdeeds swirling around Luxembourg’s Bank of St. George and its ruthless chief operating officer, Catherine Gledhill, other interested parties turn up in often surprising connections. Freelance assassin Kyra Lhota executes Armenian oligarch Samvel Yerevan and moves on to her next target. Malone’s sometime lover Cassiopeia Vitt is snatched by high-ranking Japanese security chief Aiko Ejima. His former lover Suzy Baldwin resurfaces as Kelly Austin, BSG’s director of special technology, who’s concealing secrets from Malone and the rest of the world. They’re all on the trail of a fabulous cache of bitcoin that in the absence of any legal records of ownership will belong, like the Luzon gold, to anyone who can track it down and grab it. The grandly scaled complications that follow feature countless broken alliances and the deaths of a fearsome number of nonfranchise characters. An extended author’s note explains what’s historically accurate (quite a bit, as it turns out) and what’s fabricated (quite a bit more).

Speculators who haven’t been put off by bitcoin’s recent crash will enjoy this walk—well, run—on the wild side.

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2024

ISBN: 9781538721032

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

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

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