Foodies will enjoy the cooking tips along with a tricky mystery and hints of romance to come.

THE CURSE OF THE CHERRY PIE

A cooking contest becomes a matter of life and death for a cafe owner who's also an amateur detective.

Tish Tarragon attends a funeral along with boyfriend Schuyler Thompson and a group of her besties to support widowed Celestine Rufus, Tish’s friend and employee. Schuyler, who’s running for mayor of Hobson’s Glen, Virginia, can’t linger for the funeral lunch at Tish’s Cookin’ the Books, but obnoxious new sheriff Wade Lightbody barges in, trashes the reputation of former Sheriff Reade, who left suddenly, and makes it abundantly clear that he disapproves of Tish’s sleuthing successes. Discouraged but unbowed, Tish decides to enter the Virginia Commonwealth Bake-Off in Celestine’s place in hopes of winning the prize money for her. Her savory and showstopper bake plans are well received, but her selection of cherry pie is met with horror because two former contestants who also chose cherry pie died suddenly. Tish is nearly electrocuted when someone frays the cord on her mixer, and she receives threatening notes that only make her more determined to investigate. Now that the same person has won the contest for three years running, there are plenty of accusations of favoritism. Luckily, Reade’s officers, who remain loyal to him, help Tish dig up information about the other contestants. Schuyler’s complaints about Tish’s lack of support for his ambitions while he belittles hers leave her frazzled. Luckily, both old college buds and new friends support her efforts and watch her back.

Foodies will enjoy the cooking tips along with a tricky mystery and hints of romance to come.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7278-9055-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Severn House

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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A bracing test of the maxim that “the department always comes first. The department always wins.”

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THE DARK HOURS

Meet today’s LAPD, with both good and bad apples reduced to reacting to crimes defensively instead of trying to prevent them, unless of course they’re willing to break the rules.

New Year’s Eve 2020 finds Detective Renée Ballard, survivor of rape and Covid-19, partnered with Detective Lisa Moore, of Hollywood’s Sexual Assault Unit, in search of leads on the Midnight Men, a tag team of rapists who assaulted women on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve without leaving any forensic evidence behind. The pair are called to the scene of a shooting that would have gone to West Bureau Homicide if the unit weren’t already stretched to the limit, a case that should be handed over to West Bureau ASAP. But Ballard gets her teeth into the murder of body shop owner Javier Raffa, who reportedly bought his way out of the gang Las Palmas. The news that Raffa’s been shot by the same weapon that killed rapper Albert Lee 10 years ago sends Ballard once more to Harry Bosch, the poster boy for retirements that drive the LAPD crazy. Both victims had taken on silent partners in order to liquidate their debts, and there’s every indication that the partners were linked. That’s enough for Ballard and Bosch to launch a shadow investigation even as Ballard, abandoned by Moore, who’s flown the coop for the weekend, works feverishly to identify the Midnight Men on her own. As usual in this stellar series, the path to the last act is paved with false leads, interdepartmental squabbles, and personal betrayals, and the structure sometimes sways in the breeze. But no one who follows Ballard and Bosch to the end will be disappointed.

A bracing test of the maxim that “the department always comes first. The department always wins.”

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-48564-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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