Despite the reflective tone of the tale, the plot is driven by so many boats moving at such top speeds that you have to hope...

CARIBBEAN RIM

Looks like Dr. Marion Ford’s latest research project in marine biology will have to wait for yet another tangle, his 25th, with members of a lower species.

Doc Ford (Mangrove Lightning, 2017, etc.) tells everyone who’ll listen that he’s come to the Bahamas to continue his study of sharks’ responses to the sound of boat engines. Even though he has official documents to support his story, it’s not the whole story; he’s really looking for archaeologist Leonard Nickelby, a former professor who ended his partnership with aging treasure hunter Carl Fitzpatrick by running off with three antique coins and a logbook recording all the best places Fitzpatrick had to search for booty. It turns out that Nickelby and his former student Lydia Johnson, who’s injecting him with the testosterone she’s scored from her stint in a veterinary practice, are after bigger, more recent booty: the $400 million Lydia’s former boss, con man Jimmy Jones, had skimmed from Benthic Exploration and managed to hide somewhere before Nickelby’s testimony helped send him to prison, where he was killed a few weeks ago. As Ford’s search for the searchers leads him first to dive-shack owner Tamarinda Constance then to Hubert "Sandman" Purcell, the trawler captain she spurned, his old pal Seagard Tomlinson learns that Ford’s not the only one looking for the people who are looking for the treasure. From this point on, felonies pop up faster than barnacles on a boat’s hull. So many characters are hiding so many secrets that so many other characters learn something about that it’s no surprise to find ad hoc alliances sprouting and dissolving hours later. The extravagant criminal tally includes impersonation, abduction, assault and battery, the reckless operation of seagoing vessels, and enough homicide to seriously thin the cast of treasure hunters and the people hunting them.

Despite the reflective tone of the tale, the plot is driven by so many boats moving at such top speeds that you have to hope there are no sharks in the neighborhood. If there are, poor them.

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1278-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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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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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

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THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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