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DUNGENESS AND DRAGONS

A DRIFTWOOD MYSTERY

A page-turning addition to a series and a chilling but enjoyable read.

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Two seemingly unrelated, tragic events intersect in this fourth installment of a mystery series starring a police officer known affectionately as “the Tracker.”

On Jan. 7, 2019, a fierce storm rages off the small Oregon coastal village of Driftwood. Three crab fishermen, Derek Lea, Rick Perrins, and skipper Carl Hamisu, are aboard the Johnny B. Goode when the engine suddenly dies. Before the Coast Guard can reach them, the boat is hit broadside by a massive wave and capsizes. When news breaks the next day that all three men were lost at sea, the tightknit community is overcome by grief. Police officer Charley Whitehorse, who knew Carl, feels there is something vaguely troubling about the calamity. How could the captain, who was so meticulous about his boat and experienced in sailing the treacherous waters around the Dungeness sandbars, get caught by the storm? But moments after Charley enters Driftwood’s three-person police station, a new problem presents itself. Chiara, the delightfully quirky, young, and especially competent assistant who keeps middle-aged Charley and his partner, Tony Esperanza, up to date about social media and internet searches, fields a phone call from the distressed mother of 21-year-old Patricia Carmody. The parent, who lives in Rhode Island, has been unable to contact her daughter residing in Driftwood’s neighboring town of Neskowin. The calls keep going to voicemail, and she is certain something has happened to Patricia. She is right. Cook’s engrossing narrative maintains a steady pace, employing a successful mix of police procedural and violent action. There is a plethora of bad guys—from the head of the Russian mob in Portland, Oregon, to lower level local thugs and a notorious Russian assassin—who have Charley in their sights. But the author provides some relief from the darkness of drugs, human trafficking, sabotage, and death with light bantering and conviviality among Charley, Tony, and Chiara. And although she only has a supporting role, Patricia is a strong force to be reckoned with, a determined and resourceful character. A not totally satisfying conclusion suggests the possibility of a fifth volume.

A page-turning addition to a series and a chilling but enjoyable read.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 979-8-62-182946-9

Page Count: 295

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2020

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NONE OF THIS IS TRUE

It's hard to read but hard to look away from.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

When two women who share a birthday meet, a journalist becomes the subject of her own true-crime mystery.

On their 45th birthdays, Josie Fair and Alix Summer meet at a pub and discover they were born not only on the same day, but in the same hospital. Alix is a successful journalist, and Josie convinces Alix that her story is worth telling: Josie met her husband when she was 13 and he was 40. “I can see that maybe I was being used, that maybe I was even being groomed?” she confesses to Alix. “But that feeling of being powerful, right at the start, when I was still in control. I miss that sometimes. I really do. And what I’d like, more than anything, is to get it back.” From this premise Alix creates a Netflix series, Hi! I’m Your Birthday Twin! which investigates Josie’s life as she reconciles what happened to her as a teen and seeks a new path. With the story unfinished, the narrative unfolds in the present tense, with prose that jingles like song lyrics: “He turns to see if the girl is behind him, and sees her wishy-washy, wavy-wavy, in double vision through the glass windows of the hotel.” Alix is both intrigued and repulsed by Josie, but she initially gives her the benefit of the doubt. After all, Alix’s husband, Nathan, has a drinking problem, and Alix knows what it’s like to be reluctant to leave a bad situation. But Josie seems more interested in being part of Alix’s seemingly glamorous life than she is in fixing her own, and when three people end up dead and Alix’s life is turned upside down, the evidence points to Josie—and turns the TV series into a murder mystery. Transcripts from Alix’s interviews alternate with the narrative, offering increasingly varied perspectives on Josie’s story as told by her neighbors, friends, and family members. With so many versions of events, the ending shatters, leaving readers to decide whose is the truth.

It's hard to read but hard to look away from.

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2023

ISBN: 9781982179007

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2023

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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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