Finch impressively raises the stakes of this tale between tea settings, and his character development is top-notch.

THE INHERITANCE

In the 10th installment of this Victorian-era series, a Member of Parliament–turned–private detective gets the chance to solve a 30-year-old mystery that involves his boyhood friend.

Charles Lenox hasn’t seen his Harrow school friend Gerald Leigh in many years, ever since Leigh got happily expelled and set off for a life of travel and, eventually, scientific inquiry. But hearing from Leigh generates an extra sense of excitement when his letter reveals that his return to London is related to his “mysterious benefactor.” Lenox and Leigh started an unusual friendship at school when Leigh explained that his tuition was paid by an anonymous “friend,” whose identity he desperately wanted to figure out. It was Lenox’s first mystery, and it still hasn’t been solved. It becomes clear that this is much more than child’s play when Leigh goes missing from the Collingwood Hotel and Lenox must track him down—and once he does, Leigh reports that attempts have been made on his life. The descriptions of the attackers are at once familiar to Lenox, who recognizes the pair as Anderson and Singh, part of the notorious Farthing gang. Who could possibly order this traveling scientist dead? This is when Leigh reveals that the mysterious benefactor has recently left him a rather large sum, enough to make him rich by any standards—and enough to make people risk killing for it. While in London, Leigh is also persuaded to speak at the Royal Society, which has been encouraging his visit for a long time. To Lenox’s surprise, his old friend has become quite the sensation. But when Leigh’s solicitor Ernest Middleton is found murdered, Lenox is reminded that the target is still very much on Leigh’s back. It’s time he consults his agency partners Lord John Dallington and Polly Buchanon, who have been working a break-in case at Parliament, keeping watch there overnight and, to Lenox’s extreme interest, becoming closer with each passing day. The tension continues to rise as an element of deceit clouds the entire investigation and events take surprisingly sinister and twisting turns.

Finch impressively raises the stakes of this tale between tea settings, and his character development is top-notch.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-07042-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Aug. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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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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No wonder Scarpetta asks, “When did my workplace become such a soap opera?” Answer: at least 10 years ago.

FLESH AND BLOOD

Happy birthday, Dr. Kay Scarpetta. But no Florida vacation for you and your husband, FBI profiler Benton Wesley—not because President Barack Obama is visiting Cambridge, but because a deranged sniper has come to town.

Shortly after everyone’s favorite forensic pathologist (Dust, 2013, etc.) receives a sinister email from a correspondent dubbed Copperhead, she goes outside to find seven pennies—all polished, all turned heads-up, all dated 1981—on her garden wall. Clearly there’s trouble afoot, though she’s not sure what form it will take until five minutes later, when a call from her old friend and former employee Pete Marino, now a detective with the Cambridge Police, summons her to the scene of a shooting. Jamal Nari was a high school music teacher who became a minor celebrity when his name was mistakenly placed on a terrorist watch list; he claimed government persecution, and he ended up having a beer with the president. Now he’s in the news for quite a different reason. Bizarrely, the first tweets announcing his death seem to have preceded it by 45 minutes. And Leo Gantz, a student at Nari’s school, has confessed to his murder, even though he couldn’t possibly have done it. But these complications are only the prelude to a banquet of homicide past and present, as Scarpetta and Marino realize when they link Nari’s murder to a series of killings in New Jersey. For a while, the peripheral presence of the president makes you wonder if this will be the case that finally takes the primary focus off the investigator’s private life. But most of the characters are members of Scarpetta’s entourage, the main conflicts involve infighting among the regulars, and the killer turns out to be a familiar nemesis Scarpetta thought she’d left for dead several installments back. As if.

No wonder Scarpetta asks, “When did my workplace become such a soap opera?” Answer: at least 10 years ago.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-232534-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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