The elegant resolution of both problems makes this the ethicist's best in more than a decade.

THE GEOMETRY OF HOLDING HANDS

Edinburgh ethicist Isabel Dalhousie’s 13th outing offers her an uncomfortable new role and another that’s already uncomfortably familiar.

Impressed by Isabel’s decisive reaction to the semipublic shaming of an asset-stripping capitalist, retired physician Iain Melrose approaches her with an unusual request. He doesn’t know her, he acknowledges, but they have mutual friends, and he’d appreciate it if she’d agree to serve as executor of his estate. It’s a big ask, because Melrose has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, and he’s particularly concerned that a substantial plot of open land he owns outside Argyll be preserved by whichever of his cousins inherits it: Jack the artist, Sarah the builder, or John the accountant. Shortly after reluctantly accepting this commission, Isabel realizes that the unfortunate history she has with Jack’s wife, Hilary, who served with Isabel as a juror in a lawsuit, complicates her task in unwelcome ways. Closer to home, she must deal with her niece Cat’s plans to marry the unsuitably leonine Leo, apply to the trust that supports both her and Isabel for the funding to buy a Porsche Cayenne Turbo, and sell the delicatessen that offers Eddie, her fragile assistant, his only serious hope of employment. “Where were the boundaries of your moral responsibility for others?” Isabel wonders, and wonders, and wonders some more.

The elegant resolution of both problems makes this the ethicist's best in more than a decade.

Pub Date: July 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4894-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

Just the thing for one of those lengthening nights between Halloween and Christmas.

WHEN CHRISTMAS COMES

The most wonderful time of the year doesn’t do a bit to deter Klavan from his trademark razzle-dazzle plotting.

Nothing bad, it seems, has ever happened in the patly named town of Sweet Haven, which is both 20 miles and a whole world away from the Fort Anderson Army base—at least not until ex–Army Ranger Travis Blake kills his sweetheart, elementary school librarian Jennifer Dean, hacks her to pieces, and dumps her remains in a nearby lake. Since Blake has volunteered a full confession, there’s no mystery to solve. Yet nothing about the crime seems to make sense, and Public Defender Victoria Grossburger, convinced that her client is lying, asks her friend and former lover Cameron Winter to find evidence that will prove it. Winter, a literature professor who sees things other people don’t, has a fairy-tale backstory as a poor little rich boy ignored by his parents and still haunted by a story his nanny’s brother told him as a child about a wintry encounter with a young woman who was stabbed to death by her father more than 200 years ago. Klavan has limited interest in stitching together the different pieces of his puzzle—everything’s a psychomachia, Winter eventually decides, as if that settled it all—but the climactic surprise, following complications that get wilder and woolier, is not so much logical as inevitable. And readers who can swallow the miracle of Christmas may well decide that they can accept this frankly fictional and oddly inspirational tale as well.

Just the thing for one of those lengthening nights between Halloween and Christmas.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-61316-240-8

Page Count: 244

Publisher: Mysterious Press

Review Posted Online: July 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more