Books by Ridley Pearson

Released: April 2, 2019

"These super sons deserve better than this drab outing. (Graphic adventure. 8-12)"
The super duo of Jon Kent and Ian Wayne make their middle-grade debut. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 10, 2017

"Mystery, romance, and teen angst—the game is definitely afoot. (Mystery. 9-12)"
Twelve-year-old Moria Moriarty chronicles the continuing teenage adventures of the famous archenemies Sherlock Holmes and James Moriarty. Read full book review >
THE INITIATION by Ridley Pearson
Released: Sept. 20, 2016

"A disappointing reinvention of beloved characters. (Mystery. 8-12)"
Set in modern-day Boston, this first in a new series chronicles the interactions between high school age Sherlock Holmes and his nemesis, James Moriarty. Read full book review >
WHITE BONE  by Ridley Pearson
Released: July 19, 2016

"This crackling adventure doubles as a survival guide for your next trip to the striking, endangered landscape of East Africa."
The improbable stars of Rutherford Risk tangle with murderous ivory poachers and warring local cops, rangers, and strongmen in Nairobi and the even wilder Kenyan countryside. Read full book review >
THE RED ROOM by Ridley Pearson
Released: June 17, 2014

"Filled with bromides about tradecraft—'We don't know who we're working for. We don't know who we're working against'; '[t]he easy answer is never the right one'; 'too many unknowns'—that are all too appropriate to this Rubik's cube of a thriller."
A third adventure takes globe-trotting independent contractor John Knox and forensic accountant Grace Chu to Istanbul—and all around, over and beneath this crossroads city as well. Read full book review >
THE INSIDER by Ridley Pearson
Released: April 1, 2014

"Surreal, bizarre and enchanting. (Fantasy. 10-14)"
The Kingdom Keepers saga concludes with the final battle between the forces of good and evil. Read full book review >
CHOKE POINT by Ridley Pearson
Released: June 18, 2013

"Pearson plots resourcefully, and the complications are intelligently varied. The action is so nonstop, however, that long before the end, many readers will feel as exhausted, if nowhere near as battered, as Grace and Knox."
Now that they've established their credentials in Shanghai (The Risk Agent, 2012, etc.), John Knox and Grace Chu, of Rutherford Risk, go up against a coldblooded sweatshop owner in Amsterdam. Read full book review >
THE RISK AGENT by Ridley Pearson
Released: June 19, 2012

"Exotic locale. Credible heroics. Vicarious thrills. Fans will want more, and soon."
If you have the right incentives, dollars in the billions can be made in Shanghai, where capitalism wrestles with communism. So says Pearson (In Harm's Way, 2010, etc.) in this first in a new series of thrillers. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 9, 2011

"Barry and Pearson effectively pull off the difficult trick of penning a stand-alone title that fans will adore while simultaneously causing newbies to flock back to their previous joint works—pretty nifty, that. (Fantasy. 10 & up)"
Captain Hook gets an iPad in Barry and Pearson's latest collaboration. Read full book review >
IN HARM’S WAY by Ridley Pearson
Released: Aug. 3, 2010

"An excess of melodrama doesn't quite derail an otherwise cracking procedural."
Pearson's (Killer Summer, 2009, etc.) Sun Valley sheriff Walt Fleming tries to sort out his knotty personal life as he hunts for a killer, with a little help from Seattle cop Lou Boldt, another Pearson character. Read full book review >
KILLER SUMMER by Ridley Pearson
Released: June 30, 2009

"A throwback to the time when plotting and pacing were the detective story's sine qua non; Pearson shows once again how it's done."
Sun Valley Sheriff Walt Fleming (Killer Weekend, 2008, etc.) must guard bottles of wine that once belonged to John Adams—or did they? Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2008

Eighth-grader Toby Harbinger and his outcast friends would look forward to the science fair if it were a fair competition. However, every year the rich (and obviously brainless) kids submit wonderful projects they had about as much to do with as they did the creation of the Parthenon, and one of them always wins. Toby discovers how they're doing it, but no one will believe him. Suddenly, someone is framing him for cheating. He's suspended, then grounded, then arrested for terrorism. There's more going on at this year's science fair than anyone (except Toby and his friends) knows: Turns out fixing the fair might just save the country! Barry and Pearson, co-authors of numerous Peter Pan-based novels (Cave of the Dark Wind, 2007, etc.), turn their attention to our reality (sort of) with laugh-out-loud results. A wildly unbelievable page-turner that's all the more fun for its over-the-top silliness, this is Carl Hiaasen's Hoot (2002) on suspect mushrooms. The short chapters plus the promise of a sequel will please reluctant readers as well as those seeking laughs, suspense and floating amphibians. (Science fiction. 10-14) Read full book review >
KILLER VIEW by Ridley Pearson
Released: July 8, 2008

"Pearson may not send readers to the edges of their seats, but his practiced work lets them lean comfortably against the backs of them as they follow durable Sheriff Fleming's engaging pursuit."
Part-time Sun Valley resident and prolific thriller author Pearson (Killer Weekend, 2007, etc.) gives readers an informed take on valley politics, class divisions and rugged backcountry as Sheriff Walt Fleming returns for a second case. Read full book review >
STEEL TRAPP by Ridley Pearson
Released: March 25, 2008

Pearson's second solo outing for young audiences resembles his adult thrillers—sans all of the sex and most of the violence—even featuring Federal Agent Roland Larson from Cut and Run (2005) in a supporting role. On his way to the finals of the National Science Challenge in Washington, D.C., geeky teen Steven "Steel" Trapp (named for his photographic memory) finds himself in possession of a briefcase that contains clues to a massive heist being engineered by mob and terrorist groups. His quest to solve those clues in time leads to chasing and being chased by both the baddies and the Feds. With help from equally geeky accomplice Kaileigh, plus a number of huge contrivances, he stays a step ahead until the suspenseful climax. The author's fondness for clichés ("There had to be a way. There just had to be." "We're into this one on a wing and a prayer") and his habit of repeating information already given, keep this out of the top drawer, but it's a brisk scramble nonetheless, crafted in no fewer than 80 chapters of quick prose and featuring both a (fairly) credible crime scenario and an engaging cast. (Fiction. 11-13)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2007

In this double-stranded, nearly nonstop close to the Starcatchers trilogy (at least its direct line; the authors are also producing spin-offs), peaceful Mollusk Island is overrun by savage invaders, while Peter, acerbic Tinkerbell and the Starcatchers are away in the North African land of Rundoon battling the darkness-loving Others. For one long pause, the reconstituted shadow-eater Lord Ombra stops to explain in great detail the Others's scheme to rewind the entire universe back to its pre-Big Bang state, and to reveal that the fabulously valuable "starstuff" that falls to Earth occasionally is effluent from "a leak in the plumbing of the universe." Otherwise, it's all one grand and glorious string of captures, escapes and cliffhangers, with a large supporting cast featuring a flying camel, a giant snake, a mad Russian rocket scientist and lots of monkeys. In the end, all's been set right and the main characters are, more or less, in place for the opening of Peter Pan, to which this has all been a prelude. Kudos to Barry and Pearson for a funny, clever, melodramatic romp. (Fantasy. 11-13)Read full book review >
KILLER WEEKEND by Ridley Pearson
Released: July 10, 2007

"Hyperactive and fairly tense fare from Pearson (Cut and Run, 2005, etc.)."
Sun Valley's plucky sheriff must head off a hired killer and save the woman he rescued eight years ago. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2006

Disobeying their elders, Little Scallop and her mermaid friends Aqua and Surf go out past the reef in search of beautiful pearls. Unfortunately, Surf is captured by sailors on The Carnivale, a sideshow ship. To the rescue come James of the lost boys and some dolphin friends who combine to free the mermaid moments before the pirates would have arrived, if it weren't for the timely appearance of the giant crocodile still chasing Captain Hook. This Never Land adventure, first of a series for younger readers by the authors of the bestselling Peter and the Starcatchers (2004), lacks much more than Peter Pan. The stock characters have a completely predictable adventure in a stereotyped setting. The pirate subplot is unconvincing and unnecessary. Although the book is relatively short, the vocabulary and sentence structure are not noticeably easier than those for older readers and will be challenging for the intended audience. Older reluctant readers, however, may find the familiarity reassuring and the nonstop action an incentive to finishing. (Fiction. 9-12)Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 2006

The co-authors of Peter and the Starcatchers (2004) go to the same well, and that would be one trip too many. When the evil Others come back with a powerful new ally to recover the trove of supernal Starstuff rescued in the first episode, Peter reluctantly leaves Mollusk Island ("Never Land") to deliver a warning to Molly (Wendy's mother-to-be) and the other Starcatchers. Despite introducing a chilling, Dementor-like bad guy in the person (or whatever) of soul-seizing Lord Ombra, and pacing cranked up by dozens of quick point-of-view cuts, so dependent is the plot on repetitive set pieces—how many times will Ombra ooze into another clueless victim's shadow? Or Tinkerbelle use her flashbulb trick to daze some attacker?—that the melodrama soon takes on a labored cast. Overstuffed with narrowly typecast characters and featuring a bulky side plot shoehorned in apparently just to keep Captain Hook and the Lost Boys in sight while the other players are off in London, this formulaic sequel shows two writers for adults who are just going through the motions. (Fantasy. 11-13)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2005

When Finn is selected as the model for a holographic guide in the Magic Kingdom, he never imagines it will pit him against the evil forces plotting to destroy Disney World. Along with the four other teens who act as Disney's holographic hosts, Finn appears in the Magic Kingdom in his dreams. There, an old Disney Imagineer tells the five they have been specially selected to save Disney World. The evil forces of the Overtakers—Disney's villains, led by the witch Maleficent of Sleeping Beauty—are coming to life to destroy first the Magic Kingdom, and then the world. Luckily, Walt Disney wrote a riddle long ago that can be solved to defeat the Overtakers. As they study the puzzle, the heroes battle witchcraft and living animatronics in the theme park's after-hours. Though the adventure makes cunning use of Disney's mythos—a scene in which the "It's a Small World" dolls attack the adventurers while singing their famous song is chilling—flat characters and an anticlimactic finale detract from the cleverness. (Fantasy. 11-13)Read full book review >
CUT AND RUN by Ridley Pearson
Released: April 6, 2005

"Awfully fast and agreeably scary. "
A throat slasher and a U.S. Marshall duel for possession of a woman who knows much too much about the government's witness protection program. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2004

A much-loved humorist and a renowned writer of adult thrillers make a strong combined crossover bid with this compulsively readable prequel to Peter Pan. The plot revolves around a trunk full of "starstuff," a celestial substance that induces both feelings of well-being and unpredictable physical changes (the ability to fly or to stop aging) in those who handle it. When a secret society called Starcatchers tries transporting the starstuff to safety, the shipment is hijacked for nefarious purposes by the wonderfully named Slank—after which it changes hands over and over as a quintet of orphans led by alpha male Peter, feared pirate Black Stache (named for his facial hair), mermaids, island folk, and an oversized crocodile dubbed Mister Grin are thrown into the never-a-dull-moment plot. Despite continual danger and violence, wounds and corpses disappear with Disney-like speed, and by the end, all the major characters except Wendy and sibs appear onstage (and Black Stache is ready for a new moniker). This doesn't capture the subtler literary qualities of its progenitor, but readers drawn by authorial star power or swashbuckling will come away satisfied. (Fiction. 11-13, adult)Read full book review >
Released: April 5, 2004

"Breathlessly exciting stuff, though impossible to follow in any detail either as it's going down or after it's over."
A massive, long-dormant case of embezzlement bobs to the surface, spelling trouble for Seattle Lt. Lou Boldt (The Art of Deception, 2002, etc.) and his banker wife and nonstop suspense for their fans. Read full book review >
THE ART OF DECEPTION by Ridley Pearson
Released: Aug. 7, 2002

"Middling, low-concept work from Pearson (Parallel Lies, 2001, etc.), whose handsome command of detail and breathless pace still bring it to the top of the summer's pile of procedurals."
Lieutenant Lou Boldt's eighth case (after Middle of Nowhere, 2000, etc.) uses Seattle's vast, unexplored Underground to link a pair of high-profile murder cases. Read full book review >
PARALLEL LIES by Ridley Pearson
Released: July 1, 2001

"Stick with the slow opening movement and you'll be rewarded with a bravura display of acceleration, even before the call for that fatal train. "
Pearson gives Seattle cop Lou Boldt (Middle of Nowhere, 2000, etc.) a well-earned sabbatical to concentrate on the high-speed pursuit of a vengeful saboteur obsessed with wrecking trains. Read full book review >
MIDDLE OF NOWHERE by Ridley Pearson
Released: June 1, 2000

" Reliable thrills from a pro, though only about half of Pearson's usual 12 cylinders are firing this time out. (Literary Guild/Mystery Guild selection; first printing of 125,000; $300,000)"
No, it's not murder this time—just a series of violent robberies: only the first sign that master-plotter Pearson (The First Victim, 1999, etc.) has taken some of his accustomed edge off Lt. Lou Boldt's latest case. Read full book review >
THE FIRST VICTIM by Ridley Pearson
Released: July 7, 1999

" Not even Pearson's niftiest action sequences can make up for the ho-hum forensics, the colorless villain, and the absence of any real urgency in the rescue. The master of the big-league police thriller has struck out in his own park. ($250,000 ad/promo; author tour)"
The smuggling of illegal aliens may be big business, but it makes for a surprisingly flat thriller for Seattle Police Lt. Lou Boldt (The Pied Piper, 1998, etc.). Read full book review >
THE PIED PIPER by Ridley Pearson
Released: Aug. 3, 1998

Seattle cop Lou Boldt's been promoted to Lieutenant and shifted from Homicide to Intelligence—but all the changes don't protect him from the most painfully intimate contact with a kidnapper of small children. The Pied Piper, who restricts his prey to infants and leaves a signature pennywhistle in each empty nursery, has been plying his trade for long months up and down the West Coast before he snatches little Rhonda Shotz from her babysitter. And Gary Flemming, the bullying Seattle FBI agent, has been tracking him without success. Now that Boldt's been yanked from his wife Liz's side (she's hospitalized with lymphoma) and put in charge of the task force his own captain has formed, the usual jurisdictional sparks are bound to fly. This time, though, the sparks are as hot as the fires in Beyond Recognition (1997). Just as Boldt and his team—his successor at Homicide, Sgt. John LaMoia; forensic psychologist Lt. Daphne Matthews; Scientific Investigation Director Bernie Lofgrin; and the scaldingly resentful FBI—begin to comb far enough through the scant physical evidence to link the Pied Piper to a low-rent shamus and a bustling methamphetamine lab, the Piper snatches Boldt's own daughter Sarah to insure that he keeps the task force muzzled. Consumed with grief and guilt, Boldt's still sharp enough to see that the Piper's been getting information from inside the task force. His only option is to work against his own team, running his own secret investigation while spreading disinformation that'll keep the Piper content—unless the inside informant realizes what Boldt's doing. Slowly, slowly, Boldt moves from following the Piper to anticipating his next move, as the scene shifts to New Orleans, where the police "emphasize relationships over the letter of the law." Though the Piper, once revealed, scarcely seems monstrous enough to have caused the cast members so much heartache, Pearson proves once again that he can put together a big-scale, big-time police manhunt better than anybody else in the business. ($250,000 ad/promo, including mass-market Beyond Recognition; Literary Guild selection; author tour) Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 6, 1997

Patricia Cornwell could take lessons from Sgt. Lou Boldt and police psychologist Daphne Matthews (No Witnesses, 1994, etc.) as they go up against a madman arsonist driving down property values in Seattle. The fires are so hot—one of them shoots a pillar of flame two miles into the air—that they destroy all physical evidence at ground zero, including the victims (the first is identified by a single bone). So The Scholar, so dubbed because he sends fire inspector Steven Garman a quotation from Nietzsche or Lao-tzu before carefully setting each fire, isn't leaving any trace- -except one: a series of visits to low-rent psychic Emily Richland to ask whether such-and-such a date is propitious. Emily duly notifies the cops, but, meantime, her unofficial helper, 12- year-old Ben Santori, has already gotten into the act, following her sinister visitor and putting himself squarely in harm's way. At the same time, Boldt and Matthews have managed not only to compile a group portrait of the victims—they're all dark-haired divorcÇes with children between eight and ten who were spared from the fires that claimed their mothers—but to cobble together enough information about the arsonist's modus operandi to give them a prime suspect. Already on the ropes because of his wife Liz's suspicious behavior, Boldt struggles to put together a case, but not in time to save his family from being driven from their home. Now a point for the diabolically clever Scholar, now a point for the painstaking Boldt and Matthews—until they know enough to stake out a decoy in a hundred-page finale that'll give your heart more exercise than a ten-mile run. Pearson's dazzling forensics will hook his usual fans. But it's the richness of incident and the control of pace that'll keep them dangling as he switches gears each time you think the story's got to be winding down in this exhilarating entertainment. (Author tour) Read full book review >
CHAIN OF EVIDENCE by Ridley Pearson
Released: Oct. 12, 1995

Good cops, rogue cops, and unscrupulous pharmaceutical CEOs duke it out in this near-miss technothriller from normally reliable Pearson (No Witnesses, 1994, etc.). Three years ago, Hartford Detective Joe Dartelli kept quiet about a suspicious suicide because he was convinced the victim was the Ice Man, who'd raped and killed the wife of his mentor, legendary Sgt. Walter Zeller. Now Dart is heading another suicide investigation with some eerily similar signs: an impossible physical scenario, some telltale hormonal imbalances, and the same background on the victim, another sex offender. Could the Ice Man be alive and prowling again? Or could it be, as Dart's investigation suggests, that somebody's declared open season on child molesters and domestic abusers in the greater Hartford area? In fact, could the killer be Zeller, come out of retirement to avenge his murdered wife? No sooner has Dart thought of his old boss than Zeller surfaces in a series of tantalizing phone messages``They took their own lives, but they're not suicides...Sometimes the enemy is within''and tricks his old buddies into compromising the best physical evidence against him. So far, so chillingand when Dart ties those hormonal imbalances in to a gene-therapy experiment funded by nefarious Roxin Labs, the stage seems set for one of Pearson's patented action-cum- ethical-debate showdowns. This time, though, what he substitutes is action-cum-more-action, as Zeller and Dart, spooked by a gratuitous flashback to his own abused childhood, duke it out in the dark shadows of Roxin Labs, then join forces to destroy a conspiracy that could mean the end of criminal justice as sex offenders know it. Pearson soars before he fizzles, thanks to a high-concept premise and his usual daunting mastery of forensics, computers, and blood chemistry. His fans probably won't even notice when the brains in this page-turner turn into testosterone. ($250,000 ad/promo; author tour) Read full book review >
NO WITNESSES by Ridley Pearson
Released: Oct. 6, 1994

Pearson's latest expert take on the Black Sunday formula pits his veteran team, Seattle Sgt. Lou Boldt and police psychologist Daphne Matthews, against a cunning extortionist who's threatening fatal food adulteration on a heroic scale. Like the seasoned pros they are, Boldt and Matthews don't waste any time tracing the motive to somebody who had a personal grudge against Matthews's lover Owen Adler, lord of giant Adler Foods—presumably somebody who was victimized in a five-year-old case, when Adler Foods' culpability in a tainted-chicken scandal was covered up and shifted to innocent supplier Mark Meriweather of Longview Farms. Meriweather went bankrupt and killed himself under the weight of bogus findings of salmonella in his stock. Even as Boldt and Matthews are focusing in on a Longview alumnus who's trying to drive Adler to bankruptcy and suicide, Boldt succeeds in getting surveillance footage of the Tin Man who injected cholera- 395 into five cans of Mom's Chicken Soup—but the Tin Man on camera, whom Boldt is about to identify as one Harry Caulfield, is unmistakably a woman. Can Boldt and Matthews regain their bearings, and identify the turncoat in their own ranks, in time to keep the death toll from rising past one, or past five, or seven, or eleven? When a blackmail demand leads to a wearying duel of wits at ATMs throughout the city, Boldt and Matthews keep getting closer and closer to the accomplice making the withdrawals, then (yes!) pull in the suspect—just as Boldt's brainless captain is goading the extortionist to fury by yanking all of Adler's products from supermarket shelves, setting the stage for a tense climax—and one final twist. Slicker and more two-dimensional than Pearson's organ- harvesting thriller, The Angel Maker (1993), but still a crackerjack procedural, loaded with inside details. Guaranteed to keep you reading till dawn—longer, if you wait for your fingers to unclench. ($150,000 ad/promo; author tour) Read full book review >
THE ANGEL MAKER by Ridley Pearson
Released: April 9, 1993

Potent blend of medical thriller and police procedural that resurrects the cop-hero of Pearson's Undercurrents (1988) and pits him against—of all things—a maniacal veterinarian. Lou Boldt has been off the Seattle force for two years, tending his infant son and playing jazz piano at a local dive, but his extraordinary empathy for murder victims won't let him refuse the request of police shrink and ex-lover Daphne Matthews (whose throat was slashed in Undercurrents) to help with her new case—a series of street kids found dead and missing a kidney, liver, or lung. Immediately suspecting that a transplant surgeon is ``harvesting'' the organs and selling them at great profit, Boldt rejoins the SPD and pushes for advice from the medical examiner (the narrative bristles with the sort of forensic detail that informed Undercurrents). Meanwhile, Pearson bares his villain- -sociopathic society vet Elden Tegg—as we see him snatching social-worker Sharon Shaffer with an eye to selling her heart to a mobster whose wife is dying from heart disease. Unlike Undercurrents, then, where suspense derived from ``whodunit,'' the tension here is strictly—and tightly—time-wound: Can Boldt i.d. the killer and rescue Sharon—or can Sharon herself escape from the remote dog kennel where Tegg's imprisoned her, naked and terrified- -before the vet wields his scalpel? Thriller fans will note that this setup strongly echoes Thomas Harris's The Silence of the Lambs—but Pearson matches Harris's pace as the hours tick down, marking off twists (a hiker chancing on the kennel) and hot suspense sequences (a pawnshop sting to break into Tegg's computer) until the cathartic, brutal climax. Exceptionally gripping and full of amazing forensic lore (e.g., that Band-Aids emit low-level radioactivity from being sterilized): a top-flight offering from an author who's clearly found his groove. Read full book review >
HARD FALL by Ridley Pearson
Released: Jan. 17, 1992

Coming back strong from last year's ragged Probable Cause, Pearson turns in a tale of international terrorism that offers the sort of breakneck action, mature characterization, and tight forensic detail that made Undercurrents (1988) a police-procedural classic. The story opens with a literal bang as hero Cameron Daggett's FBI superior opens a booby-trapped suitcase and blows himself and Daggett's chief link to German radical environmental-terrorist Anthony Kort to kingdom come. The foul-up particularly irks Daggett because he's sure that Kort is responsible for the airplane bombing two years back that killed Daggett's parents and left his son Duncan a paraplegic. Daggett picks up Kort's trail again, though, after the German questions and kills a Seattle flight instructor and then somehow causes the crash of a plane taking off from L.A.'s LAX—a crash that, after complex forensic deduction, Daggett and his new sidekick, alluring FAA agent Lynn Greene, eventually pinpoint to poison gas released on the plane. Tracing Kort to D.C., Daggett and Greene realize that the German plans to down another plane. The pair give chase even as, right under Daggett's nose, Kort sets about seducing Daggett's live-in girlfriend, Caroline, who responds warmly in retaliation for Daggett's growing interest in Greene. Stealing Caroline's keys, Kort sneaks into Daggett's house, kidnaps crippled Duncan, and then fakes his own death in order to divert Daggett from discovering his goal: to crash a plane into the Pentagon, where five leading industrial polluters will be meeting. But as the minutes to the ``hard fall'' of the plane tick down, Kort still hasn't figured on Caroline's furious love for Duncan or on Daggett's rage for revenge at any cost.... Not as psychologically probing as Undercurrents, and hampered by the far-fetched premise, but, overall, a well-oiled thriller with every gear smoothly spinning at top speed. Read full book review >