Cornwell’s piecemeal approach to her heroine’s daunting job is more realistic than compelling.

AUTOPSY

Back in her post as Virginia’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Kay Scarpetta finds things just as messy among the living as the dead.

Even though her killer has cut off her hands, the corpse du jour is soon identified as that of Gwen Hainey, a biomedical engineer from Thor Laboratories, who just happened to live two doors down from Scarpetta’s sister, Dorothy, and her husband, ex-cop shamus Pete Marino. Called out to assist U.S. Park Police investigator August Ryan, Scarpetta, urged on by Officer Blaise Fruge—whose mother, Dr. Greta Fruge, is a toxicologist Scarpetta came to trust before she left Virginia for Boston—connects Hainey’s murder with the months-old death of Cammie Ramada, a jogger who was drowned only a short distance away. Dr. Elvin Reddy, Scarpetta’s politically minded predecessor, short-circuited the earlier investigation by ruling the death an accident even though it was highly unusual for him to get involved directly at all. As she battles Reddy, largely through Maggie Cutbush, the British secretary he left behind to undermine his successor, Scarpetta has other worries as well. In a development that will remind fans of Cornwell’s non-Scarpetta thriller Quantum (2019), she’s called to the White House to conduct what turns out to be a long-distance autopsy by proxy on a pair of astronauts aboard a Thor orbiting laboratory who’ve apparently been killed by a barrage of space debris. And she’s poisoned by a bottle of Bordeaux she was given by irreproachable Gabriella Honoré, the first female secretary general of Interpol. After the usual professional infighting, all these separate cases are wound up with a series of casual snaps that will leave you gasping, and not in a good way.

Cornwell’s piecemeal approach to her heroine’s daunting job is more realistic than compelling.

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-311219-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

A compelling take on the classic whodunit.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE MAID

The shocking murder of a public figure at a high-end hotel has everyone guessing who the culprit might be.

Twenty-five-year-old Molly Gray, an eccentric young woman who's obsessed with cleaning but doesn't quite have the same ability to navigate social cues as those around her, loves working as a maid at the Regency Grand Hotel. Raised by her old-fashioned grandmother, who loved nothing more than cleaning and watching Columbo reruns, Molly has an overly polite and straightforward manner that can make her seem odd and off-putting to her colleagues despite her being the hardest worker at the hotel. After her grandmother's death, Molly's rigid life begins to lose some of its long-held balance, and when the infamous Mr. Charles Black, a rich and powerful businessman suspected of various criminal enterprises, is found murdered in one of the rooms she cleans, her whole world gets turned upside down. Before Molly knows what's happening, her odd demeanor has the police convinced she's guilty of the crime, and certain people at the hotel are a little too pleased about it. With the help of a few new friends (and while fending off new foes), she must begin to untangle the mystery of who really killed Mr. Black to get herself off the hook once and for all. Though the unusual ending might frustrate some readers, this unique debut will keep them reading.

A compelling take on the classic whodunit.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35615-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

A shiny bauble of mayhem sure to please Grisham’s many fans.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE JUDGE'S LIST

A vigorous thriller that gets out of the courtroom and into the swampier corners of the Redneck Riviera.

Judges are supposed to dispense justice, not administer the death penalty on their own initiative. That’s just what Lacy Stoltz is up against, though. The protagonist of The Whistler (2016), she’s a jaded investigator for Florida’s Board on Judicial Conduct, which, thanks to budget cuts, is dying on the vine, “a leaderless mess.” Lacy acts on complaints, and she receives a doozy from a well-put-together Black woman who introduces herself as Margie, though she admits that's an alias. Her father, a much-respected professor of constitutional law, had retired to South Carolina and was murdered by an unknown killer. Now the coldest of cold cases, his death is a link in an evidentiary chain that only Margie—her real name is Jeri Crosby—has managed to construct. The murderer: a circuit judge sitting in Pensacola, biding his time until he can cross off the next victim on a deeply personal to-be-avenged list. Judge Bannick has more money than God and more technological goodies than Lex Luthor, but though a psycho, he puts on a good public face. Lacy is resistant at first, given that her normal brief is to investigate complaints about drunkenness or corruption, but she allows that “six murders would certainly liven up her caseload.” And then some. We don’t meet the killing judge until halfway through the book, and then he’s a model of clinical badness in a game of cat and mouse that ends in—well, a rather frothily grisly moment. As with all his procedurals, Grisham injects professorial notes on crime and justice into the proceedings: “This country averages fifteen thousand murders a year. One-third are never solved….Since 1960, over two hundred thousand.” And as ever, with one body unaccounted for, he leaves the door ajar to admit a sequel—one that, with luck, will team Lacy with the much more energetic Jeri to enact some justice of their own.

A shiny bauble of mayhem sure to please Grisham’s many fans.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-385-54602-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

more