Marlowe’s 11th case is short on sleuthing but long on theatrical travails and backstage bitchery.

THE RECKONING

The onstage tragedy in Christopher Marlowe’s new play is rivaled by dark offstage mysteries swirling around him.

1592. Problems plague Kit Marlowe’s new theatrical project from the start. At the elderly Queen Elizabeth’s insistence, Marlowe’s been saddled with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, a troupe of inexperienced actors. His decision to produce his friend and housemate Thomas Kyd’s play The Spanish Tragedy is rejected, leading to a difficult conversation with Kyd and the harder challenge of writing a new play. Marlowe comes up with The Troublesome Reign and Lamentable Death of Edward the Second, King of England. John Foxe, one of his actors, is found dead with a knife sticking out of him in the whorehouse of Mistress Isam. Moll, the sweet blonde prostitute who serviced Foxe, is both inconsolable and unhelpful in Marlowe’s efforts to get some insight into the killing, but the sometime sleuth is determined to learn more. Things take an even darker turn when Moll dies one cold night while on the job. The details her grief-stricken friend Jane lays out are murky, and Jane's description of Moll’s last client is too generic to be helpful. Meanwhile, the show must go on. Rigorous rehearsals alternate with Marlowe’s attempts to investigate the two recent deaths. The pressure on Marlowe to finish the announced play is alleviated when friendly rival Will Shaxsper (sic) provides some pages he’s able to incorporate. But more murders deepen the mystery and challenge Marlowe further.

Marlowe’s 11th case is short on sleuthing but long on theatrical travails and backstage bitchery.

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-78029-129-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Creme de la Crime

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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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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