Not quite as dazzling as its predecessor (A Great Deliverance, 1988) but still complex, rich, and accomplished enough to elbow the author between P.D. James and Ruth Rendell to form the new triumvirate of English psychological suspense. Here, Scotland Yard Inspector Thomas Lynley, his pugnacious, definitely non-U partner Sergeant Barbara Havers, and Lynley's good friend forensic scientist Simon Allcourt-St. James are (curiously) sent to Scotland (beyond their jurisdiction) to uncover (cover up?) the murder of author Joy Sinclair—who was snowbound at an isolated estate with her play's director, producer, stars (including her sister), a drama critic, the widowed lady of the manor (the producer's sister), and the help (young Gowan is soon scalded and stabbed too). While Lynley—in a jealous pique—fixes blame on the director (he and Lynley love the same woman), St. James and Havers focus on the author's newly revised work: Could the murder motive connect to it and to the unkempt family grave dating back to 1963 (and MI5 concerns)? Following other clues (and bolstering his suspicions), Lynley arrives in Porthill Green and attempts to link up the revised work (which has been confiscated by. . .?) with the 1973 suicide/murder of Hannah Darrow—back then, Mrs. Darrow was fatally familiar with one lackluster member of the Scottish theatrical entourage who played her town in stock. The resolution comes at the expense of several family secrets, one spy scandal, Lynley's personal happiness and, assuredly, a less-than-finest hour for the Yard's integrity. Clearly in the process of developing and maturing her permanent cast (Lynley; Havers; St. James; his wife Deborah; his associate, and Lynley's unconsummated love—Lady Helen), George demonstrates an unusual proficiency for dealing with lots of characters without stooping to cliches. Equally deft: the interweaving here of many disparate storylines; a Christie-crisp placement of clues; and her portrayal of the down side of love and responsibility. A major talent likely to influence the direction of the crime novel for years to come.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1989

ISBN: 0553384805

Page Count: 413

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1989

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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. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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