This character-driven exploration of people’s darkest flaws is a sterling example of Cleeves’ formidable talents.

THE HERON'S CRY

In her follow-up to The Long Call (2019), Cleeves provides a complex mystery full of surprises.

Detective Matthew Venn’s North Devon team is stretched to the limit by a series of homicides. An aborted conversation between police officer Jen Rafferty and Nigel Yeo, who wants to discuss a problem at a party thrown by a mutual friend, is the first hint of trouble. The next morning, Jen is called to a murder scene at an artist’s workshop on the grounds of wealthy Francis Ley's home. The dead man is Nigel, who was killed by a spear from one of his glass blower daughter Eve’s pieces. The investigation is complicated by several preexisting relationships. Jen had a one-night stand with Wes Curnow, the other artist in residence at Ley's, who also has studio space at an art center run by Venn’s artistic, upbeat husband, Jonathan. The murdered man worked for a watchdog organization that’s investigating the National Health Service after several families complained that their depressed youngsters got little help and committed suicide, including the son of a local family that could be seeking revenge. The homicide team, which in addition to Jen includes an ambitious detective named Ross, work in their own intuitive ways alongside Venn, a clever, soft-spoken, deeply conflicted man—he's still working on his fraught relationship with his mother after having been brought up in a cultlike religious group that doesn’t welcome gay people. A second murder with another shard of Eve’s glass widens the possible range of suspects, making it more difficult for the sleuths to ignore their personal feelings.

This character-driven exploration of people’s darkest flaws is a sterling example of Cleeves’ formidable talents.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2502-0447-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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 mystery overflowing with local color, holiday charm, appended recipes, and plans for themed parties.

TWISTED TEA CHRISTMAS

A week before Christmas, Charleston society is shocked by the murder of one of their own.

Tea shop owner Theodosia Browning and her sommelier, Drayton Conneley, are catering a Victorian-themed party at the home of wealthy and beloved society doyenne Miss Drucilla when their client is murdered almost before their eyes, her rings stripped from her fingers, and a valuable Renoir stolen. Theodosia has plenty of experience with murder and a fairly good relationship with grouchy Detective Burt Tidwell. Even though he prefers that she stay out of his investigations, she can’t ignore the pleas of Miss Drucilla’s assistant to investigate and does some snooping between putting on several fabulous Christmas-themed tea parties. Most of Miss Drucilla’s money was earmarked for various charities jockeying for her attention. With her police officer boyfriend out of town, Theodosia finds herself unprotected when her sleuthing apparently attracts the killer’s attention, and she has some narrow escapes. With Drayton as her reluctant sidekick, she uses all her contacts to help dig up some motives. In the end her investigation literally goes to the dogs, who may be the most gifted sleuths of all.

A mystery overflowing with local color, holiday charm, appended recipes, and plans for themed parties.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-20086-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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