A CUPBOARD FULL OF COATS

An impressive debut, particularly notable for its pellucid prose.

First novel explores the trans-generational fallout from an abusive relationship.

Edwards vividly re-creates the lifestyles, cuisine and dialect of Caribbean immigrants living in London’s East End. Her narrator is Jinx, whose present life has been tainted by her mother’s violent death 14 years earlier, for which she blames herself. When an old family friend, Lemon, appears out of nowhere, Jinx is forced to relive the events leading up to the tragedy. Her mother’s lover, Berris, the man who stabbed her, grew up with Lemon as a street urchin on the tiny West Indies island of Montserrat. The two men are lifelong friends, but also rivals. Berris spoiled Lemon’s marriage by impugning his wife’s chastity and the paternity of his son. Meanwhile, Jinx reflects on how her own marriage suffered from her traumatic adolescence. Having relinquished custody of her son to her ex-husband, she has no maternal feelings toward the child. Her alienation is such that she only feels comfortable around the dead people she makes up in her job as a freelance embalmer. Now, long estranged from his son, his wife dead of cancer, Lemon has come to confess something to Jinx. As Jinx and Lemon tiptoe around each other, various facts emerge. Jinx was 16 when Berris appeared. Her formerly tranquil life with her mother, a widow, is shattered by her mother’s total absorption in Berris. When he moves in, a pattern begins: He hits Jinx’s mother (we don’t learn her name until the end) then, to atone, buys her progressively more luxurious coats, until she has a closetful. Jinx loses her virginity to the much older Lemon, but is stung by his apparent crush on her mother. Her resentment explodes into rage after Berris beats her, and her mother ignores her screams. As both Lemon and Jinx cautiously summon long suppressed memories of the night of the murder, the novel spirals to a satisfying if not entirely surprising climax.

An impressive debut, particularly notable for its pellucid prose.

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1851687978

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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

BADLANDS

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...

Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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