Robertson, who seems to command an unlimited stream of clever ideas for recycling the Holmes legend without resuscitating...

THE BAKER STREET JURORS

It was only a matter of time, and now it’s happened at last: Sherlock Holmes gets called to jury duty.

The person who answers the summons is not, of course, the fictional Holmes, of whom solicitor Nigel Heath has already had more than his fill, presiding as he does (with his absent brother, Reggie) over the Baker Street Law Chambers (Moriarty Returns a Letter, 2014, etc.). When Her Majesty’s Crown Court, following the thousands of other naifs who’ve written to Holmes at 221B Baker St. over the years under the impression that he's a real person, sends him a summons to jury duty, Nigel tosses it out the window. And that would be that, if only the same mail delivery didn’t bring Nigel’s own summons and if, upon his selection as an alternate juror in the third murder trial of celebrated cricket star Liam McSweeney for killing his wife, he didn’t perceive in Siger—a fellow alternate who constantly quotes the Sacred Writings, makes Sherlock-ian inferences about the other jurors, and interrupts the trial by asking pointed questions—the likely finder of the summons he discarded. Both Nigel and Siger (“the longer form is Sigerson, but that’s been overused,” the mysterious alternate informs him, doubtless aware of its Holmes-ian connections) will have their hands full, since someone seems intent on promoting at least some of the five alternates to full participation by sidelining the jurors who have been duly impaneled. When Nigel’s own question of a witness leads the entire jury, along with the judge, the bailiff, and the court steward, on an outing to McSweeney’s estate on an island off the Devon coast, savvy readers will pick up the scent of another classic mystery, and they’ll be rewarded by still another stream of in-jokes and sly cross-references.

Robertson, who seems to command an unlimited stream of clever ideas for recycling the Holmes legend without resuscitating the great man, outdoes himself in the most effervescent of his five Baker Street cocktails to date.

Pub Date: July 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-06006-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 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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A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...

BADLANDS

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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