Even at less-than-peak performance, Mosley delivers enough good stuff to let you know a master’s at work.

TROUBLE IS WHAT I DO

If you’ve been wondering what Leonid McGill and his family private-eye business have been up to lately, how does trying to foil a billionaire’s murderous plot to conceal his black heritage sound to you?

The seemingly unstoppable Mosley (John Woman, 2018, etc.) shifts his restless vision back to contemporary New York City and to McGill, the ex-boxer who’s as agile at navigating both sides of the law as he was in the ring. Here, Mosley delves into the murky waters of history and racial identity as Leonid’s agency is asked by one Philip “Catfish” Worry, a 94-year-old African American blues musician from Mississippi, to help him to deliver a letter to the daughter of a wealthy, ruthless, and incorrigibly racist white banker saying that he's her great-grandfather because of an illicit liaison he had with the banker’s white mother. Sounds simple enough, but the aptly named Mr. Worry warns McGill that the banker is desperate enough to do anything within his considerable and far-reaching power to stop that information from getting to his daughter. (“One thing a poor sharecropper understands is that messin’ with rich white people is like tipplin’ poison.”) When his client is wounded three hours after he takes the case, Leonid calls upon every resource available to carry out his assignment, including various characters scattered throughout Manhattan who are somehow beholden to him, whether it’s a physician recovering from opioid addiction or an ill-tempered NYPD captain who dispenses the kind of stern-but-friendly admonitions police detectives have given private eyes since the days of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe. Watching McGill coolly deploy the physical and intellectual skills he’d acquired in his previous life as an underworld “fixer” provides the principal pleasure of this installment, along with Mosley’s own way of making prose sound like a tender, funny blues ballad. (At one point he says a character is “as country as a bale of cotton on an unwilling child’s back.”) But there isn’t much more than that to this mystery, which is far less complex than its setup promises.

Even at less-than-peak performance, Mosley delivers enough good stuff to let you know a master’s at work.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-49113-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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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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One protest from an outraged innocent says it all: “This is America. This is Wyoming.”

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LONG RANGE

Once again, Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett gets mixed up in a killing whose principal suspect is his old friend Nate Romanowski, whose attempts to live off the grid keep breaking down in a series of felony charges.

If Judge Hewitt hadn’t bent over to pick up a spoon that had fallen from his dinner table, the sniper set up nearly a mile from his house in the gated community of the Eagle Mountain Club would have ended his life. As it was, the victim was Sue Hewitt, leaving the judge alive and free to rail and threaten anyone he suspected of the shooting. Incoming Twelve Sleep County Sheriff Brendan Kapelow’s interest in using the case to promote his political ambitions and the judge’s inability to see further than his nose make them the perfect targets for a frame-up of Nate, who just wants to be left alone in the middle of nowhere to train his falcons and help his bride, Liv Brannon, raise their baby, Kestrel. Nor are the sniper, the sheriff, and the judge Nate’s only enemies. Orlando Panfile has been sent to Wyoming by the Sinaloan drug cartel to avenge the deaths of the four assassins whose careers Nate and Joe ended last time out (Wolf Pack, 2019). So it’s up to Joe, with some timely data from his librarian wife, Marybeth, to hire a lawyer for Nate, make sure he doesn’t bust out of jail before his trial, identify the real sniper, who continues to take an active role in the proceedings, and somehow protect him from a killer who regards Nate’s arrest as an unwelcome complication. That’s quite a tall order for someone who can’t shoot straight, who keeps wrecking his state-issued vehicles, and whose appalling mother-in-law, Missy Vankeuren Hand, has returned from her latest European jaunt to suck up all the oxygen in Twelve Sleep County to hustle some illegal drugs for her cancer-stricken sixth husband. But fans of this outstanding series will know better than to place their money against Joe.

One protest from an outraged innocent says it all: “This is America. This is Wyoming.”

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53823-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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