Fans will enjoy matching wits with Cleeves’ eccentric sleuth right up to the dangerous surprise in her denouement.

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THE DARKEST EVENING

A murder investigation hits close to home for an experienced police officer in the north of England.

Taking a wrong turn in a snowstorm, Inspector Vera Stanhope finds a car with only a baby inside. With no cellphone service, she drives to the nearest house, which just happens to belong to her estranged relatives. Vera’s cousin Juliet and Juliet’s husband, Mark Bolitho, are giving a dinner party in hopes of courting prospective donors to support Mark’s plan of converting their estate into an art center, promoting Mark’s artistic interests and keeping the faltering estate alive. When a farmer tied to the estate discovers the body of a murdered woman in the snow near the main house, Vera becomes involved in a case that bring her closer to her only family. The car belongs to a retired schoolteacher who often loaned it to Lorna Falstone,  the mother of a baby son. The suspects in her murder include the dinner guests along with Juliet’s snobbish mother, Harriet, and Dorothy Felling, a superior housekeeper who lives with her husband and child in a tied cottage. It seems unlikely that a madman wandered out of the storm to kill Lorna, who’s never identified the father of her child. After the baby is taken to Lorna’s parents, who own a farm nearby, a second murder spurs Vera and her team to investigate a tangled web of family connections and buried secrets.

Fans will enjoy matching wits with Cleeves’ eccentric sleuth right up to the dangerous surprise in her denouement.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-25-020450-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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If you're new to Penny's world, this would be a great place to jump in. Then go back and start the series from the beginning.

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ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE

Gamache goes to Paris.

Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec has had an eventful time in Penny's last few books, taking over as Chief Superintendent, uncovering corruption at the highest levels, facing public scorn, and finally ending up back where he started, as head of the homicide division. Penny has always been a master of pacing on a serieswide level, moving between the overarching corruption story and more local mysteries and also occasionally taking a break from Three Pines, the beloved, unmappable Quebec village that is the main setting. This time around, Gamache and his wife, Reine-Marie, a retired librarian, are spending time in Paris, where both of their children now live, waiting for their daughter, Annie, to give birth to her first child with husband Jean-Guy Beauvoir, Gamache's former second-in-command. Gamache takes the opportunity to visit the Rodin Museum with his godfather, billionaire Stephen Horowitz, who then joins the extended Gamache clan for dinner—only to be hit by a car and almost killed as they leave the restaurant. Gamache is convinced it was no accident—an impression reinforced the next morning when he and Reine-Marie go to Stephen's apartment and find the place has been ransacked and there's a dead body behind the sofa. Soon the whole family is involved in the investigation, and everyone has a part to play, from Reine-Marie, who visits the Archives nationales, to son Daniel, a venture capitalist who moved to Paris to escape his father's shadow. Gamache calls on an old friend, the head of the Paris police force, but can he be trusted? As always, Penny's mystery is meticulously constructed and reveals hard truths about the hidden workings of the world—as well as the workings of the Gamache family. But there's plenty of local color, too, with a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower to escape surveillance and a luxurious suite at the Hotel George V for good measure.

If you're new to Penny's world, this would be a great place to jump in. Then go back and start the series from the beginning.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-25-014523-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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