This one has it all: sexual predation, financial skulduggery, reluctant heroism, even the power of social media.

CONVICTION

A compelling, complex thriller as modern as tomorrow.

Mina (The Long Drop, 2017, etc.) leaves historical Glasgow and sets this crackling tale in the very moment. Sophie Bukaran is living as Anna McDonald; she's hidden herself in Glasgow, in marriage to a lawyer, in being mother to two girls. Then one November morning, between episodes of a true-crime podcast called Death and the Dana, her life "explode[s]." Her best friend, Estelle, is at the door, and Anna's husband reveals that he and Estelle are lovers and they're leaving with the girls. Anna considers suicide, but the podcast distracts her. Leon Parker and his family have died aboard the Dana, and the ship's cook has been convicted. The podcast asserts that the cook could not be guilty and the deaths were the result of a murder-suicide committed by Parker. But Anna knew Leon Parker and feels he could not be the culprit, so she decides to try to learn more about his fate. When Estelle's anorexic and feckless husband, Fin, a minor rock-and-roll celebrity, appears at her door, he is caught up in her decision, and they eventually create a companion podcast that details their explorations. But in the process Anna and Fin are photographed and the pictures posted online, so Anna's quest becomes entwined with threats to Sophie Bukaran's life. Years earlier Sophie was raped by members of a beloved football team, and her accusations threatened the team's reputation and value. When the only corroborator of her testimony was silenced, Sophie was discredited in the usual manner: Her morals were questionable, she was possibly drunk, she was seeking money. Dismissed and subjected to public vilification, Sophie disappeared. But a new witness has come forward and could confirm Sophie's accusations, and her reappearance again threatens a financial empire. As Fin's podcast becomes wildly popular and he and Anna begin to unravel the mystery of Leon Parker's death, the assassins seeking Sophie close in.

This one has it all: sexual predation, financial skulduggery, reluctant heroism, even the power of social media.

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-52850-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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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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