English Wall debuts with an ambitiously twisty intellectual adventure especially good for those smitten by—and maybe versed in—the traditions of decadence in art and poetry rooted in the end of the last century. Life isn—t so happy for Tom Lynch after his British father is lost in the 1937 burning of the Hindenburg, especially when his New Jersey mother—vain, shallow, resentful’so much prefers her new boyfriend over her son. But right after WWII, Tom finds himself sent off to prep school in England, where he’s virtually adopted by the school’s fiercely principled (and fiercely Catholic) head, Patrick Grimshaw. Grimshaw introduces Catholic Tom to the long, rancorous, often sectarian history of the Yorkshire moors—and introduces him to something more as well by giving him a copy of Paradise Lost created and illustrated by the artist Alfred Delaquay. Delaquay, a mix of Baudelaire in the depraved and Blake in the visionary, issued his illustrated works in editions of single copies as a protest, in part, against modern philistinism and lack of high principle; and now just to receive one of them—the Dante, Milton, or Blake—requires becoming a member of the secret Delaquay Society and upholding its truths forever, including the vow never ever to gain a penny from Delaquay. When Tom goes to Oxford, though, to study art, his own spiral into drink and compromise doesn—t take long—nor does his expulsion from the Society, once he breaks the code by paying cash—1,000 lbs.—for the Delaquay Baudelaire. Nothing now will keep him—not even the love of piercingly brilliant, brave, beautiful Rachel Fein, lecturer at Oxford—from falling further into depravity in London, even his becoming, in cahoots with a truly amoral and wonderfully limned gallery owner, the producer himself of dozens of fake Delaquays. What awaits tormented Tom in the end, if heavier in plot than in psychology, will displease only few. Profundities—real ones’survive felicitously and well inside an often sordid tale of mystery and high squalor.

Pub Date: June 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-609-60158-X

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1998

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


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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After a flight in fantasy with When the Wind Blows (1998), Patterson goes to ground with another slash-and-squirm psychokiller page-turner, this one dedicated to “the millions of Alex Cross readers, who so frequently ask, can’t you write faster?” By day, Geoffrey Shafer is a charming, 42-year-old British Embassy paper-pusher with a picture-perfect family and a shady past as an MI-6 secret agent. Come sundown, he swallows a pharmacy of psychoactive pills, gulps three black coffees loaded with sugar, and roams the streets of Washington, D.C., in a battered cab, where, disguised as a black man, he rolls dice to determine which among his black female fares he—ll murder. Afterwards he dumps his naked victims in crime-infested back alleys of black- slum neighborhoods, then sends e-mails boasting of his accomplishments to three other former MI-6 agents involved in a hellish Internet role-playing game. “I sensed I was at the start of another homicide mess,” sighs forensic-psychologist turned homicide-detective Alex Cross. Cross yearns to catch the “Jane Doe murderer” but is thwarted by Det. Chief George Pittman, who assigns sexy Det. Patsy Hampton to investigate Cross and come up with a reason for dismissing him. Meanwhile, Cross’s fiancÇe is kidnaped during a Bermuda vacation, and an anonymous e-mail warns him to back off. He doesn’t, of course, and just when it appears that Patterson is sleep-walking through his story, Cross nabs Shafer minutes after Shafer kills Det. Hampton. During the subsequent high-visibility trail, Shafer manages to make the jury believe that he’s innocent and that Cross was trying to frame him. When all seems lost, a sympathetic British intelligence chief offers to help Cross bring down Shafer, and the other homicidal game-players, during a showdown on the breezy beaches of Jamaica. Kinky mayhem, a cartoonish villain, regular glimpses of the kindly Cross caring for his loved ones, and an ending that spells a sequel: Patterson’s fans couldn’t ask for more.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-69328-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1999

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