Cameron’s energetic potboiler could draw readers in—or exhaust them.

BONE RATTLE

A deputy U.S. marshal stationed in Alaska is challenged by a handful of serious cases and a complicated home life.

When a big archaeological dig grinds to an abrupt halt at the discovery of a rattle that could be worth half a million dollars, the handful of men on hand debate their next move, wary of upsetting their boss, Harold Grimsson, or his dangerous right-hand man, Dollarhyde. Grimsson, who owns the Valkyrie Mine Holdings, is on his private island south of Juneau being warned by two corrupt state senators that he’s in danger of being connected to the criminal Hernandez brothers, currently on trial for financial fraud. Little do the senators know that Grimsson murdered his first wife or that Dollarhyde killed the dig site employee who wanted to halt the operation. While all this is unfolding, Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshals Arliss Cutter and Lola Teariki are hauling in some grittier perps. Their takedown of drug dealer Jarome Pringle and his stripper girlfriend blossoms into a tense chase and a major bust with several more arrests. Other cops deal with a body on a frigid gravel beach. Cutter’s home life is going through some growing pains. After four marriages, he’s now helping his late brother's widow, Mim, raise snarky twin teenagers and harboring sad memories from his past. Dollarhyde’s thirst for violence seems unquenchable. Cameron’s colorful procedural has epic scope; each change of setting seems to bring a new set of characters and a new subplot with its own wrinkles. Plot threads sprawl and tangle with the abandon of a soap opera. Until the tale settles down to focus on premier villain Grimsson, keeping it all straight is a challenge.

Cameron’s energetic potboiler could draw readers in—or exhaust them.

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4967-3208-8

Page Count: 456

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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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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Enjoyable storytelling by two masters of the craft.

22 SECONDS

Lindsay Boxer faces a ton of trouble in the latest entry in Patterson and Paetro’s Women’s Murder Club series.

Senior crime reporter Cindy Thomas is writing a biography of Evan Burke, a notorious serial killer who sits in solitary confinement in San Quentin. She’s kidnapped by thugs wanting her to talk about her best friend, Lindsay Boxer, who’s an SFPD homicide detective and the story’s main character. San Francisco has a restrictive new gun law, and gun-totin’ folks everywhere have their boxer shorts in a twist. A national resistance movement has formed—Defenders of the Second—whose motto is “We will not comply.” They find it outrageous that the new law makes it illegal to own a gun that can kill 50 people with a single clip. Meanwhile, lots of bodies show up: A young girl disappears and is later found dead in a ditch, and ex-cops are found dead with their lips stapled shut and “You talk, you die” written on their foreheads. An inmate is found hanged in prison. And “a massive but unspecified load of military-style weaponry was en route from Mexico to the City by the Bay.” In a “frustrating, multipronged case,” there’s a harrowing shootout memorialized in a video showing “twenty-two of the scariest seconds” of Boxer’s life. She’s an appealing series hero with loving family and friends, but she may arrive at a crossroads where she has “to choose between my work and [my] baby girl.” The formulaic story has unmemorable writing, but it’s entertaining and well told. You probably won’t have to worry about the main characters, who have thus far survived 21 adventures. Except for the little girl, you can expect people to get what they deserve. It's relatively mild as crime novels go, but the women characters are serious, strong, and admirable.

Enjoyable storytelling by two masters of the craft.

Pub Date: May 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-49937-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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