So fierce, ambitious, and far-reaching that it makes most other mysteries seem like so many petit fours.

DEAD LAND

V.I. Warshawski’s search for a homeless woman with a fraught past leads her deep into a series of political conspiracies that stretch over generations and continents.

Bernadine Fouchard, V.I.’s goddaughter, thinks that Lydia Zamir, whose songs about strong women she reveres, was shot dead along with her lover, Hector Palurdo, at a Kansas fundraiser four years ago. She’s only half right. The 17 victims ranch hand Arthur Morton shot in Horsethief Canyon include Palurdo but not Zamir, whom V.I. and Bernie happen to hear banging out haunting tunes on a toy piano under a Chicago railroad viaduct. But they glimpse her only momentarily before the traumatized musician flees and eventually disappears. Soon afterward, Bernie finds herself in trouble when the young man she’s been dating—Leo Prinz, a summer employee of SLICK, the South Lakefront Improvement Council—is murdered and she becomes a person of considerable interest to Sgt. Lenora Pizzello. The search for Lydia Zamir morphs into an investigation of her relationship with Palurdo, an activist against the Pinochet regime in Chile long before he was shot apparently at random. In the meantime, the disappearance of Simon Lensky, one of SLICK’s elected managers, throws a spotlight on the organization’s controversial proposal for a new landfill on the South Side. Everyone in the city seems to have strong opinions about the proposal, from Gifford Taggett, superintendent of the Chicago Park District, to Nobel Prize–winning economist Larry Nieland, to an inveterate protestor known only as Coop, who kicks off the story by vanishing after parking his dog with V.I., to her consternation and the ire of her neighbors and her own two dogs. As usual, Paretsky (Shell Game, 2018, etc.) is less interested in identifying whodunit than in uncovering a monstrous web of evil, and this web is one of her densest and most finely woven ever.

So fierce, ambitious, and far-reaching that it makes most other mysteries seem like so many petit fours.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243592-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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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