Mean girls, stalkers, and a jealous brother are all fair game as suspects in this clever and amusing mystery.

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A BIG FAT GREEK MURDER

A rehearsal dinner goes badly awry when the groom is not only absent, but dead.

Athena Spencer left a bad marriage to return to the bosom of her large Greek family. She works at their garden center and helps out in the family restaurant along with her three sisters, Delphi, Maia, and Selene. Wealthy Mandy Black, who’s about to marry personal trainer Brady Rogers, is waiting for him at the restaurant, where they've booked their rehearsal dinner. After he doesn’t show up, his friends find him stabbed with a pair of scissors Selene uses at the hair salon where she works. Selene had reported Brady when he hit on her at the gym, but when Mandy accuses her of having had an affair with Brady, she becomes the prime suspect. Although the bridal party was visiting the salon when the scissors vanished, the evidence piling up against Selene forces Athena to investigate. At the same time, Athena’s working out relationship problems with handsome, astute Case Donnelly, whom she saved from a murder rap in her debut, Statue of Limitations (2020). Although Case has recently moved to Michigan, Athena, who has trust issues, isn't sure if that was for her or for some other reason. But she’s glad he’s willing to pitch in to help her save Selene. Now they just have to find someone who was fed up with Brady’s playboy habits.

Mean girls, stalkers, and a jealous brother are all fair game as suspects in this clever and amusing mystery.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4967-2435-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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Too long by a couple of hundred pages but still skillfully told, with a constantly gleeful interest in human awfulness.

TROUBLED BLOOD

J.K. Rowling returns with the fifth of her Cormoran Strike series of detective thrillers, and the blood flows fast.

At the opening, we find Strike at a pub—he’s never far from an adult beverage—when he’s approached by a young woman with a strange tale. Her mother, Margot Bamborough, a general practitioner, disappeared from her clinic—in 1974. Strike, working his first cold case, Googles the doctor’s name only to find that her disappearance had aspects in common with ones attributed to the very unpleasant Dennis Creed, who kidnapped, raped, murdered, and beheaded his victims—sometimes, in a choice that will raise red flags coming from Rowling, while dressed in women's clothes. Now locked away, Creed is just one of the suspects who emerges in the course of Rowling’s overlong but propulsive yarn, each of whom seems to have the job of pulling Strike away from the elusive truth. Fortunately, he has Robin Ellacott, his associate, to get him back on course: He is the muscle and the mover, prosthetic leg notwithstanding, but Robin has a talent for ferreting just the right bits of information out of people. And what people there are: a supposedly drug-addicted colleague of Margot's; the son of a cop who investigated the disappearance and slowly went mad in the process, leaving notebooks of speculation behind that increasingly turned toward the astrological and supernatural; prostitutes and minor drug dealers; a young man with a penchant for animal abuse; a philandering fellow, several of whose girlfriends wind up inconveniently dead; even a couple of vicious gangsters. Then there’s Creed himself, a minor Hannibal Lecter whom Strike takes pleasure in deflating: “She was murdered by a far more skillful killer than you ever were,” he tells the psychopath. Ouch! After wading through a barrel of red herrings, Rowling—beg pardon, Galbraith—delivers the real killer, the least obvious of the lot, and it’s a masterful, perfectly thought-through revelation.

Too long by a couple of hundred pages but still skillfully told, with a constantly gleeful interest in human awfulness.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-49893-7

Page Count: 944

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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