A previously secondary character, Eskens' broken-hearted hero finally has the spotlight the third time out. It’s too bad he...

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THE HEAVENS MAY FALL

A grieving detective and a self-doubting lawyer face off in a courtroom.

The last thing Max Rupert wants is to catch a homicide case on the anniversary of his wife Jenni’s hit-and-run death. But he’s determined to do right by the unidentified dead woman found in an alley with stab wounds in her neck and a child’s blanket wrapped around her. Max uses his wits and a pair of registered diamond earrings to trace the victim’s identity. She was the wealthy and influential Jennavieve Pruitt, the force behind a foundation to save wetlands. When the police search her home, they find a shadow box missing a two-edged dagger and an inscription that reads, “For carving out more protected land.” Although it’s likely one of the developers whom Jennavieve prevented from building on his own land, who could have killed her, Max is under pressure to build a case against Ben, Jennavieve’s husband, who wasn’t even in town the night of the murder. That doesn’t discourage an ambitious assistant Hennepin County attorney in league with Jennavieve’s sister, who has her own motive for murder and her own reasons for getting Ben charged with the crime instead. But they haven’t reckoned with Ben’s friend and former law partner, Professor Boady Sanden, who’s still recovering from a case that left him so shaken he swore he’d never practice law again. Ben coaxes Boady back into practice to defend him, even though Boady and Max are friends, too. But more than friendship is on the line as Ben’s case heads to trial, Max thinks he has a break in his wife’s cold case, and the momentum finally starts building in this sideways sequel to The Life We Bury (2014).

A previously secondary character, Eskens' broken-hearted hero finally has the spotlight the third time out. It’s too bad he has to fight his way through so much back story to get there.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63388-205-8

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Seventh Street Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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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THE MIDNIGHT CLUB

Patterson's thrillers (Virgin, 1980; Black Market, 1986) have plummeted in quality since his promising debut in The Thomas Berryman Number (1976)—with this latest being the sorriest yet: a clanky and witless policer about a criminal mastermind and the cop sworn to take him down. Aside from watching sympathetic homicide dick John ("Stef") Stefanovich comeing to terms with a wheelchair-bound life—legacy of a shotgun blast to the back by drug-and-gun-running archfiend Alexandre St.-Germain—the major interest here lies in marvelling at the author's trashing of fiction convention. The whopper comes early: although St.-Germain is explicity described as being machine-gunned to death by three vigilante cops in a swank brothel (". . .a submachine gun blast nearly ripped off the head of Alexandre St.-Germain"; "The mobster's head and most of his neck had been savaged by the machine-gun volley. The body looked desecrated. . ."), before you know it this latter-day Moriarty is stepping unscathed out of an airplane. What gives? Authorial cheating, that's what—thinly glossed over with some mumbling later on about a "body double." Not that St.-Germain's ersatz death generated much suspense anyway, with subsequent action focusing on, among other items, the gory killings of assorted mob bosses by one of the vigilante cops, and Stef's viewing of pornographic tapes confiscated from that brothel. But readers generous enough to plod on will get to read about the newly Lazarus-ized St.-Germain's crass efforts to revitalize and consolidate the world's crime syndicates ("the Midnight Club"), Stef's predictable tumble for a sexy true-crime writer, and how (isn't one miracle enough for Patterson?) at book's end Stef walks again and gets to embrace a rogue cop who's murdered several people. Ironsides with a badge and a lobotomy.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 1988

ISBN: 0446676411

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1988

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