Smart, atmospheric fun, with enough loose ends left dangling to assure fans there will be more entries in this enjoyable...

LADY COP MAKES TROUBLE

From the Kopp Sisters series , Vol. 2

Constance Kopp’s real-life adventures as “New Jersey’s first lady deputy sheriff” again make savory grist for Stewart’s fictional mill (Girl Waits with Gun, 2015, etc.).

When we reconnect with Constance in the summer of 1915, she's casually toting a revolver and collaring a male perp, as strong-minded and strong-armed as ever. Constance loves her new job and is grateful to liberal Sheriff Heath for making it possible for her to support her sister, Norma, and 18-year-old Fleurette, who thinks she's their sister but is in fact Constance’s illegitimate daughter. It’s a grievous disappointment to learn that the law enabling women to become police officers doesn’t necessarily apply to sheriff’s deputies and that until Sheriff Heath finds legal precedent for hiring Constance, she’s stuck in a stopgap position as matron at the local jail. Summoned to Hackensack Hospital to translate for Herman von Matthesius, a German-speaking prisoner taken there for allegedly suffering dire symptoms, Constance is at first glad for the excitement but then mortified when he slips away while she guards his door. Not only has she justified the sexist slurs of her former male colleagues, but her slip-up could send Sheriff Heath to jail. Constance determines to track down von Matthesius herself, giving straight-laced Mrs. Heath one more reason to disapprove of her, alongside the possibly accurate suspicion that the lady officer’s feelings for the sheriff are warmer than professional. As was the case in Girl Waits with Gun, plot details are less compelling than our rooting interest in Constance out-detecting all the men (which she does) and in the evocative period atmosphere, this time centered on the mean streets of early-20th-century New York City, where von Matthesius and his confederates lurk. Sharp-tongued Norma and pretty, stage-struck Fleurette head a vivid supporting cast, and the von Matthesius case and a subordinate mystery are satisfyingly wrapped up to Constance’s credit.

Smart, atmospheric fun, with enough loose ends left dangling to assure fans there will be more entries in this enjoyable series.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-40994-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

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CIRCE

A retelling of ancient Greek lore gives exhilarating voice to a witch.

“Monsters are a boon for gods. Imagine all the prayers.” So says Circe, a sly, petulant, and finally commanding voice that narrates the entirety of Miller’s dazzling second novel. The writer returns to Homer, the wellspring that led her to an Orange Prize for The Song of Achilles (2012). This time, she dips into The Odyssey for the legend of Circe, a nymph who turns Odysseus’ crew of men into pigs. The novel, with its distinctive feminist tang, starts with the sentence: “When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” Readers will relish following the puzzle of this unpromising daughter of the sun god Helios and his wife, Perse, who had negligible use for their child. It takes banishment to the island Aeaea for Circe to sense her calling as a sorceress: “I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began.” This lonely, scorned figure learns herbs and potions, surrounds herself with lions, and, in a heart-stopping chapter, outwits the monster Scylla to propel Daedalus and his boat to safety. She makes lovers of Hermes and then two mortal men. She midwifes the birth of the Minotaur on Crete and performs her own C-section. And as she grows in power, she muses that “not even Odysseus could talk his way past [her] witchcraft. He had talked his way past the witch instead.” Circe’s fascination with mortals becomes the book’s marrow and delivers its thrilling ending. All the while, the supernatural sits intriguingly alongside “the tonic of ordinary things.” A few passages coil toward melodrama, and one inelegant line after a rape seems jarringly modern, but the spell holds fast. Expect Miller’s readership to mushroom like one of Circe’s spells.

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-55634-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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POP GOES THE WEASEL

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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