It’s hard to believe Mosley once gave serious thought to killing off his first detective hero. He’s still got plenty of game.

BLOOD GROVE

The uneasy passage of Easy Rawlins through late-20th-century Los Angeles continues at the hinge of the 1960s and '70s in one of the knottiest cases of the Black detective’s long and bloody career.

It’s one thing trying to solve a murder. It’s still another trying to prevent a murder. But try helping somebody determine whether he murdered someone or not—and without any evidence, like, say, blood or a corpse. That’s the dicey situation facing private eye Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins in the summer of 1969 when Vietnam War veteran Craig Kilian wanders into his office carrying a nasty bruise on his head and an especially volatile strain of post-traumatic stress syndrome. It takes an abrupt and violent mood swing before Craig manages to tell Easy about a moonlight encounter in an orange grove involving a half-naked White woman tied to a tree, screaming “Alonzo” as someone Craig describes as “a big black man with long straight hair” is standing next to her with a knife. Craig lunges at what he believes to be the woman’s attacker, and all Craig remembers before being knocked unconscious is wrestling with the other man on the ground and feeling the knife sink into the other man’s chest. When Craig comes to, there’s no one around the campsite but a small black dog. “No white girl or black man. I didn’t even see any blood on the ground,” says Craig, who wants Easy to find out where they went and whether he killed the man. Easy’s got an inventory of questions, chiefly how somebody like Craig got referred to him in the first place. Nevertheless, Easy, who served in Europe during World War II, takes the case, partly in solidarity with a fellow vet’s travails. It doesn’t take long for Easy to begin regretting this decision as he finds himself fitfully making his way through a minefield of thieves, crime bosses, prostitutes, goons, and, as always, racist White cops who even after a decade of civil rights laws, race riots, and cultural upheaval can’t bring themselves to acknowledge that a smart, self-possessed Black man like Easy Rawlins, who at this point in the series is pushing 50, deserves to drive around LA in a yellow Rolls Royce that belongs to him.

It’s hard to believe Mosley once gave serious thought to killing off his first detective hero. He’s still got plenty of game.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49118-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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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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