A promising series debut, sometimes humorous, often puzzling, and peopled with believable characters.


A bookstore owner goes all out to save her best friend from a murder charge in this series kickoff from Lillard (A Family for Gracie, 2019, etc.).

Arlo Stanley’s nomadic life with her hippie parents left her with a strong urge to settle down. She chose Sugar Springs, Mississippi, the small town where she’d been allowed to stay for her high school years. Just before the 10th Annual All School Class Reunion, the dead body of former classmate Wallace J. Harrison is found on the sidewalk outside her shop, Books & More. Wally, whose book was a recent New York Times bestseller, had a stunning wife, Daisy James-Harrison, and a lovely mistress/assistant, Inna Kolisnychenko. So did he jump, or was he pushed? Chief Matthew “Mads” Keller was Arlo’s high school squeeze until football broke them up. Like everyone else in Sugar Springs, he knows that Arlo’s best friend, Chloe Carter, the foodie "More" in Books & More, had a child with Wally in high school whom he refused to acknowledge. Taxed with her motive, Chloe admits that Wally came to see her wanting to get back into his son’s life, but she doesn’t think the arrogant Wally would kill himself. When Mads arrests Chloe based on a coffee cup laced with poison mushrooms, Arlo resolves to prove her innocent. When Sam Tucker, the man she turned to after she broke up with Mads, arrives in town to care for his sick mother, Arlo’s life becomes even more complicated as she ponders her relationships with the two men she may still love. Luckily, Arlo’s book club ladies, who’ve been around forever and know every secret in town, are thrilled to help Arlo as she desperately chases down clues.

A promising series debut, sometimes humorous, often puzzling, and peopled with believable characters.

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8777-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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As usual, Patterson (Cradle and All, p. 262, etc.) provides a nonstop alternation of felonies and righteous retribution...


Who’s robbing all those banks and kidnapping all those people and killing all those accomplices? It’s somebody calling himself the Mastermind—a comic-book sobriquet that represents everything that’s wrong with the latest installment in Patterson’s Alex Cross franchise.

A young woman robs a bank in suburban Maryland and threatens to kill the manager’s family if she’s kept from meeting her timetable. She’s less than a minute late out the door, so the family dies. So does the robber. So do all the staff at a second bank after somebody tips the police off. Who could possibly be so ruthless? It’s the Mastermind, the evil genius who set up both robberies intending murder from the beginning—even warning the cops the second time. And robbing banks is only the beginning for the megalomaniac, who’s plotting a group abduction worth $30 million and a series of maneuvers that’ll feed his cat’s-paws to the police, or to the fishes. And since the Mastermind likes to see families suffer, he vows to take the war of nerves right to forensic psychologist Cross. But if he wants to ruin the D.C. detective’s life, he’ll have to stand in line, since Cross’s girlfriend Christine Johnson is pulling away from him and his daughter Jannie is suddenly having seizures. Despite his prowess with guns and fists, and his awesome insight into other people’s minds, Cross would be desperate if it weren’t for the timely embraces of FBI agent Betsey Cavalierre, to whom he’ll make passionate love while telling her, “I like being with you. A lot. Even more than I expected.” With an adversary like that, how can the Mastermind prevail?

As usual, Patterson (Cradle and All, p. 262, etc.) provides a nonstop alternation of felonies and righteous retribution unclouded by texture, thought, or moral complexity, to produce the speediest tosh on the planet.

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2000

ISBN: 0-316-69325-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000

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