Jefferson Bass: The Inquisitor’s Key ****
The Inquisitor’s Key
By Jefferson Bass ****
# 7 with Dr. Bill Brockton, a forensic anthropologist in Tennessee, in the Body Farm series
MBTB review: Bill Brockton and Miranda Lovelady are called to Avignon, France to identify a set of mysterious bones found in a hidden chamber in the Palace of the Popes. Although the stone inscription hints that the bones might be those of Jesus, the two anthropologists remain skeptical while they attempt to identify the remains. When an attempt on their own lives is made, the pair realize things are not quite as they seem and the pressure is on to uncover the mystery of the two thousand year old bones.
This installation is completely different from the rest of the series and would fall more comfortably in the “archaeological thriller/mystery” category. Bass flips back and forth between the mystery of today’s discovery of the bones, and a medieval account of what happened. The forensic detail that we are so accustomed to is paired down and the history, archaeology and politics of the time are brought into limelight which was a nice change for me. As usual, Bass’ plot was action packed and we delved into Brockton’s love life a bit more than usual. Overall, a real page turner.
First book: Carved in Bone
## Related posts:
Spotlight on Jefferson Bass and the Body Farm novels posted in November 2009
MBTB full review of The Bone Thief # 5
MBTB full review of The Bone Yard # 6
posted by Shiela
Jonathan Nasaw: The Girls he Adored (2001) ****
The Girls he Adored
By Jonathan Nasaw
Book 1 with FBI Agent E.L Pender
This book appealed to my psychology background and was a real treat. Nasaw does a great job at creating a character who suffers from both the controversial Dissociative Identity Disorder phenomena and all of the implications that go with the disorder, and meshed it so brilliantly with Antisocial Personality Disorder in such a believable way. Max actually reminded me of a new and more twisted Hannibal Lector.
What I loved about this book is the amount of time and detail the author spends developing the antagonist. We go way back into Max’s childhood and learn of the repeated atrocities and abuse that played such a large role in shaping him into the monster he eventually became. You actually felt sorry for the little boy who lost so much at such a young age (which, albeit, doesn’t excuse him from becoming a serial killer when he grew up). So many criminal/forensic/thrillers spend so much time developing the protagonist and focusing on the mere chase of the “bad guy(s)” that they often neglect to fully divulge motives of the killer. Kudos to Nasaw for depicting such a fleshed out antagonist.
Note: Not for the faint of heart
Posted by Shiela
More British Police Procedurals
Here are a few British police procedurals that looked interesting:
Echoes of the Dead
By Sally Spencer
#3 in the Monika Paniatowski series
Booklist starred review
After serving 22 years for the rape and strangulation murder of 13-year-old Lilly Dawson in 1951 Whitebridge, Lancashire, Fred Howerd, who admitted to the killing, claims his innocence in a deathbed confession to a Catholic priest. Scotland Yard sends Det. Chief Insp. Tom Hall to help Chief Constable George Baxter's team, chiefly Monika, reopen the case, which was the first big case of her retired former boss, Chief Insp. Charlie Woodend, for Scotland Yard's Murder Squad. Monika hopes the truth will clear Woodend or his then sergeant, Ralph Bannerman, of arresting or even framing the wrong man. Spencer unravels a complex cobweb of clues while smoothly flipping back and forth between 1951 and 1973. (Review taken from Publisher's Weekly)
By Belinda Bauer
In bleak midwinter, the people of Shipcott are shocked by the murder of an elderly woman in her bed. As snow cuts off the village, local policeman Jonas Holly is torn between catching a brutal killer and protecting his vulnerable wife, Lucy.
When the inquiry is commandeered by an abrasive senior detective, Jonas finds himself derided by his colleagues and ashamed to admit to Lucy that he’s been sidelined. It seems his first murder investigation may be over before it’s begun. But when he receives a series of increasingly sinister anonymous notes, Jonas is thrust back into the center of the case. Someone in the village is taunting him, blaming him for the tragedy. Someone thinks he’s not doing his job; someone seems to know every move he makes. And soon Jonas has to ask: Who’s hunting who? (Book description)
By Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
#13 in the Detective Inspector Bill Slider mysteries series
Booklist starred review
Slider's latest case focuses on the murder of Dr. David Rogers, who is killed at home with an execution-style shot to the head. The more Slider and his team investigate, the more puzzling the case gets. Rogers appears to have no next of kin except his ex-wife, who claims she hasn't spoken to him in years. He lived a luxurious lifestyle on a modest income from a company that doesn't exist. He was a womanizer whose numerous girlfriends claim he was a respected doctor, but no hospital has him on their books. Leads are thin on the ground, and motive, means, and opportunity are impossible to substantiate. But eventually the case breaks wide open, and Slider and his team win kudos for solving a crime with international implications. (Taken from Booklist)
By Peter Turnbull
Those with a hankering for a solid police procedural with no distracting subplots will welcome this gripping entry in British author Turnbull's long-running series featuring George Hennessey and Somerled Yellich (Deliver Us from Evil, etc.). When solicitor John Seers inspects the kitchen garden of a vacant mansion while taking inventory, he discovers five mostly skeletal human bodies. Each of the victims was restrained—gagged as well as chained by the wrists behind the back and by the ankle to a large concrete block. The Yorkshire police have a tall order to identify the victims and find out who systematically left them to die a cruel death. True to form, the members of Hennessey's team doggedly search for a common thread uniting the five. (Taken from Publisher's Weekly)
Posted by Shiela
I am longing for the days when I was on vacation in London and to keep the memory alive, I have decided to go through my "to-read" list and pull out some mysteries set in England.
A Corpse at St. Andrew's Chapel (2010)
By Melvin Starr
A Medieval Mystery set in Brampton, England
2nd title in a series
This second Hugh de Singleton mystery (after The Unquiet Bones ) once again features Master Hugh, who is both bailiff and physician at Bampton Manor. In this suspense-filled tale, the beadle of the manor sets out to find and bring back anyone breaking curfew, but he never returns home. The officer's wife pleads with Master Hugh to search for clues and solve his disappearance. (Description taken from Library Journal)
The Drowned Ones (2010)
by Melvin Starr
Set in Redditch, Worcestershire England 1827
When the battered and bloated bodies of, first, a lowly servant girl and then a loutish barge worker surface in the fetid waters of the canal outside Worcestershire’s hardscrabble Tardebigge Parish, the unsavory task of investigating their deaths falls to beleaguered Constable Thomas Potts. Armed with a rudimentary knowledge of forensic science, a relentlessly inquisitive mind, and a righteous sense of fair play, the unlikely detective determines that both victims were murdered before being tossed into the drink, a conclusion roundly discounted by his parish superiors. Potts can’t shake the feeling that more victims are at risk, yet he is forbidden from officially pursuing the investigation. As Potts repeatedly risks his own life to bring justice to those who have lost theirs, the violence escalates in sinister and sinful ways. Fraser’s improbable constable is a marvel of cunning and a mass of contradictions: meek yet daring, intelligent yet naive, romantic yet resigned. (Review from Booklist)
By Nick Oldham
Book #14 in the Henry Christie Mystery series
Police Procedural set in Lancashire, England
Newly promoted Detective Superintendent Henry Christie could do without dealing with Felix Deakin, a convicted drug dealer serving a heavy prison sentence, who suddenly volunteers some new evidence that could be crucial in an upcoming murder trial. But things go horribly wrong when Deaken escapes from custody and kidnaps a disgraced ex-cop's some to use as a bargaining chip...(Book Description)
A Nice Place to Die (2011)
By Jane McLoughlin
Historical Police Procedural set in Catacombe, England, 1568
The ancient village of Catcombe, scene of a horrible crime in 1568, is now a modern housing development. It is also the home of a very dysfunctional family, whose children terrorize the neighbors. When the young vicar of the church is murdered while making a house call, DCI Rachel Moody and her colleagues cannot find a motive. It's clear, though, that the residents are keeping many secrets. DCI Moody, new to the area and working hard to prove herself in a sexist department, refuses to give up. A solid procedural and a revealing look at an insular community. (Description taken from Booklist)
The Other Side of the Door (2010)
By Nicci French
Contemporary Thriller set in London
At the start of this pitch-perfect thriller from British author French, the husband-wife team of Sean French and Nicci Gerard, band singer Bonnie finds her summer fling boyfriend and fellow band member, Hayden, dead on the floor of a friend's London apartment. She proceeds to hide the corpse and obliterate every sign of her presence at the crime scene. This course of action is, predictably, full of pitfalls. Hayden's well-known involvement with other women could have provided Bonnie a motive for murder. To complicate matters, at least one more person appears to have altered the crime scene. Told in a tantalizing series of flashbacks, the narrative draws you into the inner world of the protagonist, a tough cookie who nevertheless endures a relationship that's so abusive the reader is never quite sure that she did not, in fact, snap. (from Publisher's Weekly)
Posted by Shiela
Gregory Funaro: The Sculptor (2010) ***
By Gregory Funaro
A ruthless serial killer known only as “the Sculptor” models his victims into Michelangelo’s famous sculptures
A serial killer calling himself the Sculptor, who reshapes his victims into replicas of works by Michelangelo, sends creepy messages to art historian Cathy Hildebrant. When it becomes clear that her book on Michelangelo's work is an inspiration for the murders, FBI special agent Sam Markham asks her help in figuring out when and where the killer will strike next, but the Sculptor easily evades their efforts and, with clumsy inevitability, traps Cathy and promises to make her his next victim… (Abridged description taken from Publisher’s Weekly)
MBTB review: I sooo was looking forward to this book for months and what a disappointment! I don’t know if I just wasn’t in the mood for it, or maybe they were rookie mistakes as this is Funaro’s first book. Either way, I’m hoping they get better because he does have some very creative ideas, they just didn’t come across the right way. He tries too hard to make this a thriller/mystery/romantic suspense/almost non-fiction piece that it kind of fell apart for all four categories. I love mysteries that have to do with art history, and I do appreciate background information regarding the pieces in question, but the “nonfiction” parts of this novel came across as very “textbookish” and quite frankly, uninteresting. The romance in the novel was almost comic and did not add anything to the storyline and the thrilling aspect of it was kind of slow going. The one thing I did appreciate are the parts of the story that were from the serial killer’s point of view. They always add to the story and give the reader a different perspective into the mind and motivations of the deranged killer.
There are better art thrillers/mysteries out there. Give Jonathan Santlofer a try—he is deliciously creepy and suspenseful and he includes some of this own artworks in the novel as well. A co-worker of mine has also suggested Nicholas Kilmer who I will be checking out in the near future.
I am going to give his second book “The Impaler” a try which acts as a prequel to “The Sculptor”. Hopefully I’ll enjoy it more.
Posted by Shiela
Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton
Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton
Novelist: From the author of the acclaimed bestseller Sister comes a gripping, thrilling story of a mother who will do anything to protect her child.....
Here's what the Booklist reveiw had to say:
/* Starred Review */ When her children’s school catches on fire, Grace runs headlong into the inferno, determined to rescue her 17-year-old daughter, Jenny. But both end up unconscious and in critical condition in the hospital. It’s there that the two find themselves unfettered from their bodies and able to travel the hospital hallways, where they learn that the fire was set deliberately and that Jenny was the target. Grace discovers a newfound appreciation for her sister-in-law, Sarah, a smart and determined detective whom Grace had previously thought to be cold and judgmental. As the gutsy Sarah homes in on the arsonist and provides Grace’s devastated husband with emotional support, Grace rues the fact that they were never really friends. Grace must also comfort her daughter, who can barely stand to look at her severely burned face and whose chances of survival are only 50/50. Lupton takes her readers on a totally harrowing ride as she melds a suspenseful procedural with an emotionally fraught family drama. Within a taut and sinuous narrative, heartbreak over a broken family vies with fear that the arsonist will return to complete the job of killing Jenny. Masterful pacing and a highly charged atmosphere combine to make this an exceptionally gripping read.
* * *
If you like this book by Rosamund Lupton, NoveList recommends the following:
Started early, took my dog by Kate Atkinson
Tracy Waterhouse, a retired police detective leading a quiet life, makes a snap decision to relieve habitual offender Kelly Cross of a young child he's been dragging around town. Tracy soon learns her parental inexperience is actually the least of her problems, as much larger ones loom for her and her young charge. Meanwhile, detective Jackson Brodie embarks on a different sort of rescue--that of an abused dog. NoveList
Losing you by Nicci French
Preparing to leave for a vacation, Nina Landry awaits the return of her fifteen-year-old daughter, Charlie, who had spent the night at a friend's house, but Nina begins to worry when Charlie does not come home and no one takes the disappearance seriously. NoveList
The lovely bones by Alice Sebold
Looking down from heaven, 14-year-old Susie Salmon recounts her rape and murder and watches her family as they cope with their grief and "the lovely bones" growing around her absence. NoveList
* * *
This is a cross post from the Fiction Files blog.
posted by Sharon
WHAT I'M READING NOW:
Good as Dead
by Mark Billingham
British police procedural
Book # 10 with Tom Thorne, a middle aged detective inspector in London, England
Description: Detective Tom Thorne is forced to re-consider an old case when a greiving father takes one of Thorne's colleagues hostage and demands to know the truth about how his son died in prison from the man who put him away.
First book: Sleepyhead
Tami Hoag: Down the Darkest Road (2012)****
Down the Darkest Road
By Tami Hoag
MBTB review: Hoag has an eerie way of creating true-to-life characters. The emotions and paces she puts them through and their reactions are so vivid and raw, the reader can’t help but feel their pain and root for their success. Lauren’s desperation and helplessness at having lost her daughter and her husband to this sadistic pervert, who constantly taunts her and is still free to victimize someone else, is so evident in every single page it almost makes you want to shoot the killer yourself. On the other hand, her daughter’s feelings of neglect and her silent cries for help make you want to shake Lauren and tell her that she still has a daughter left. Hoag’s antagonists are so vile and creepy, yet you know that people like them are only too real which makes the subject matter of the book that much more disturbing. Like I said, she is a master at creating the most amazing characters.
This is more of a thriller or a psychology suspense story than a mystery as the identity of the perpetrator is known early on, although there is an unexpected gem of a twist at the end. It is the third book in a series set in Oak Knoll and some major plot points of the previous books are mentioned in casual conversation so if you’re a stickler for reading order, (and don’t want to know the identity of the killer in a previous novel) start with the first book in the series, Deeper than the Dead (2010). I have read many of Hoag’s books and although her past experience as a romance writer occasionally rears its sometimes ugly head, her mystery and suspense novels are a really good read.
Posted by Shiela
Chelsea Cain: The Night Season (2011) ***
The Night Season
By Chelsea Cain
Here's what the Publisher's Weekly review had to say:
When a body turns up at an amusement park, Archie thinks it's just another drowning, until the coroner finds a puncture wound. The case becomes a murder investigation when similar marks are found on other recent victims thought to have succumbed to the Willamette's rising waters. Meanwhile, reporter Susan Ward is writing a piece on a skeleton uncovered at the site of what was once Vanport, a town destroyed by a flood in 1948. She tags along with Archie's team as they try to pinpoint not only the killer's motive but also his bizarre toxin. (Abridged review taken from Publisher’s Weekly)
MBTB review: This fourth installment of the Archie Sheridan files comes to us without the infamous killer, Gretchen Lowell who he spent the past three books chasing. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure how I would react to this book without her diabolical means thwarting and tormenting Archie at every turn. She was a villain like no other and her effect on Archie made the first three books stand out from the plethora of other thrillers on the market. But Cain did not completely disappoint.
Although The Night Season can be downgraded from a truly creepy psychological thriller to a mere police procedural, it was very atmospheric and entertaining nonetheless. The horror and gore was significantly pared down, while the investigation methods and procedures took the limelight as the killer used an unusual weapon to carry out his dastardly mission. I commend Cain for the length and pacing of the novel and the moments of dire peril she puts some of the regular characters through.
That being said, my biggest complaint (and the main reason why I did not give this a higher star rating) was because the killer was so abysmally underdeveloped. After being extensively treated into the mind and motivations of Gretchen, the reader was not even privy as to why this killer even bothered to kidnap the little boy let alone use his particular murder weapon. The motive was weak and not explained very well at all.
If this was my first Chelsea Cain book, it would have been rated much higher, but after the first two books in this series, I know what she is capable of writing and this wasn’t it. All in all, not as enjoyable as the first three but still worth the read.
For more chills and thrills by Cain, start at the beginning of the series...
Heartsick (2007) MBTB review
Sweetheart (2008) MBTB review
Evil at Heart (2009) MBTB review
The Night Season (2011)
Posted by Shiela
PW’s Top 10 Mysteries and Thrillers 2011
The Killer is Dying
In this novel of suspense set in Phoenix, Arizona, Sallis explores the thoughts and motives of three very difference characters, including a dying gun for hire.
Spero Lucas, a 29 year old Iraq war vet, does special investigations for a Washington, D.C defense attorney in this remarkable first in a new crime series.
A violent storm strans PI Cork O’Connor and his grown daughter, Jenny, on a remote island in Minnesota’s Northwest Angle, where they discover the dead body of a teenage girl and her barely alive infant son.
The inadvertent discovery of a bundle of frozen body parts leads FBI agent Scott Houston to Agency 32/1, a nonprofit missing person identification resource center, in Koff’s forensic thriller debut.
Irish author, Colfer, best known for his middle-grade Artemis Fowl series, makes his much anticipated crime novel debut with this pitch-perfect comic noir.
The House of Silk
Authorized by the Conan Doyle estate, this new Sherlock Holmes novel captures the authentic Watsonian voice. Contains some disturbing content.
When Lemmer, a freelance South African bodyguard, agrees to help a wealthy farmer smuggle two rare black rhinos out of Zimbabwe, he soon finds himself in big trouble.
Tom Rob Smith
Set in 1965, Smith’s third novel takes Leo Demidov, a former Soviet secret police agent, to the United States to investigate a crime against a member of his family.
The crash of a German airplane on a glacier in Iceland in the waning days of WWII has series present day repercussions in this thriller, a departure for crime author Indridson.
The Boy in the Suitcase
Lene Kaaberbol and Agnette Friis
After Nina Borg, a Red Cross nurse, discovers a three-year old boy inside a suitcase, she begins a dangerous quest to find out who his is and to whom he belongs.
Posted by Shiela
This list is from Publisher's Weekly online article: Fall 2011 Announcements
Also check PW Top Mysteries for 2011
Jefferson Bass: The Bone Yard (2011) ****
The Bone Yard
By Jefferson Bass
MBTB review: After Dr. Bill Brockton attempts to help a fellow forensic analyst prove that her sister's apparent suicide was actually a homicide, Brockton inadvertently finds himself in the middle of a case that is both horrifying and based in reality. When two adolescent skulls are uncovered showing signs of severe physical abuse near the burnt ruins of a Boy's Reformatory School, Bass and his team must delve into the past and piece together the last moments of these victims' tragic lives.
As per usual, these books are very graphic and disturbing and this one especially so. Regardless, the writing is excellent with just enough "lecture" type moments to get readers onboard and updated with recent forensic methods but not to lose them in the jargon. The Bone Yard is still, at its core, a solid, fast-paced forensic thriller/mystery with a dash of non-fiction--the interesting kind.
I have yet to be disappointed will be eagerly waiting for the next book in the series Mr. Bass.
In order to really enjoy this series, start at the beginning with...
Carved in Bone
To read more about Jefferson Bass' work as well as his novels, click here to read a previous MBTB post
Posted by Shiela
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