This character-driven exploration of people’s darkest flaws is a sterling example of Cleeves’ formidable talents.

THE HERON'S CRY

In her follow-up to The Long Call (2019), Cleeves provides a complex mystery full of surprises.

Detective Matthew Venn’s North Devon team is stretched to the limit by a series of homicides. An aborted conversation between police officer Jen Rafferty and Nigel Yeo, who wants to discuss a problem at a party thrown by a mutual friend, is the first hint of trouble. The next morning, Jen is called to a murder scene at an artist’s workshop on the grounds of wealthy Francis Ley's home. The dead man is Nigel, who was killed by a spear from one of his glass blower daughter Eve’s pieces. The investigation is complicated by several preexisting relationships. Jen had a one-night stand with Wes Curnow, the other artist in residence at Ley's, who also has studio space at an art center run by Venn’s artistic, upbeat husband, Jonathan. The murdered man worked for a watchdog organization that’s investigating the National Health Service after several families complained that their depressed youngsters got little help and committed suicide, including the son of a local family that could be seeking revenge. The homicide team, which in addition to Jen includes an ambitious detective named Ross, work in their own intuitive ways alongside Venn, a clever, soft-spoken, deeply conflicted man—he's still working on his fraught relationship with his mother after having been brought up in a cultlike religious group that doesn’t welcome gay people. A second murder with another shard of Eve’s glass widens the possible range of suspects, making it more difficult for the sleuths to ignore their personal feelings.

This character-driven exploration of people’s darkest flaws is a sterling example of Cleeves’ formidable talents.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2502-0447-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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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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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

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