The parchment that’s been so contested, along with two others equally sought, turns out to be something priceless,...

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A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE

Perry’s 14th helping of seasonal warmth and crime (Revenge in a Cold River, 2016, etc.) is more stripped-down and elemental than ever, maybe because its Holy Land setting casts such a spell.

Now that he’s retired from Special Branch, Lord Victor Narraway can do what he likes, and what he likes at Christmas 1900 is to bring Lady Vespasia, his wife of nearly two years, on a trip to Jerusalem. Even before they reach the Holy City, their journey seems suffused by a portentous note struck by an elderly man with whom they happen to dine in Jaffa. Although he never tells them his name, they are struck by his gravity and humility in discussing his travels and his attachment to Jerusalem and horrified when his throat is cut the following night—not just because his hotel room is quite close to theirs, not even because he had been quick to second Vespasia’s uncanny suspicion that someone had been watching their meeting. When Victor finds in his pocket a note their companion has left them warning that “the Watcher draws near” and asking them to deliver the accompanying parchment, written in a language they cannot read, to the House of Bread on Jerusalem’s Via Dolorosa by Christmas Eve, they set out with new purpose and a new sense of danger. The Watcher, of course, is on their trail, and they’ll need all the help they can get from Benedict, a fellow passenger who escapes with them from the train to Jerusalem, and Haroun, whose followers rescue them from the desert to which they’ve surrendered themselves.

The parchment that’s been so contested, along with two others equally sought, turns out to be something priceless, inspiring, and not at all likely to disturb any readers of this extended greeting card who keep Christmas.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-88638-0

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 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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