Crisp, unpretentious, and bound to please the legion of fans for whom a world of Bond is never enough.

FOREVER AND A DAY

Horowitz celebrates his return to the James Bond franchise (Trigger Mortis, 2015) by providing the story of 007’s very first adventure in 1950.

Five years after World War II has ended, Bond slips into the Double-O ranks by committing his first duly licensed execution. Then, on the orders of M, he prepares to go after the people who made his promotion possible by dispatching the first 007. The assignment takes him to Marseilles, where his nameless predecessor was shot three times. Was the killer Joanne Brochet, aka Sixtine, the special ops–trained freelance agent who makes a living selling information to the highest bidder? Or was it Irwin Wolfe, the wealthy, aging American businessman Sixtine’s taken up with? Or was he killed on the orders of scale-busting Corsican ganglord Jean-Paul Scipio, whose latest endeavors have made him worth his weight in heroin? Sixtine and Wolfe tell plausible stories about their presence in Marseilles, and Scipio does Bond the favor of not killing him on their first meeting. Setting his cap on getting closer (much closer) to Sixtine, Bond soon has her warbling her darkest secrets into his ear. He’s made enough waves to attract unwanted attention, though, and soon enough he’s hoping he’ll get bailed out by CIA agent Reade Griffith. Horowitz unfolds this tale in prose as knowingly workmanlike as Ian Fleming’s, and readers hungry for details of Bond’s origin story will find out why he demands his martinis shaken, not stirred. But although he conscientiously hits all the obligatory notes, taking care not to outshine his master, there’s nothing here that would make the unwary suspect how fiendishly inventive Horowitz can be when he’s not laboring in Bond’s shadow (The Word Is Murder, 2018, etc.).

Crisp, unpretentious, and bound to please the legion of fans for whom a world of Bond is never enough.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-287280-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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Greed, love, and extrasensory abilities combine in two middling mysteries.

LABYRINTH

Coulter’s treasured FBI agents take on two cases marked by danger and personal involvement.

Dillon Savitch and his wife, Lacey Sherlock, have special abilities that have served them well in law enforcement (Paradox, 2018, etc.). But that doesn't prevent Sherlock’s car from hitting a running man after having been struck by a speeding SUV that runs a red light. The runner, though clearly injured, continues on his way and disappears. Not so the SUV driver, a security engineer for the Bexholt Group, which has ties to government agencies. Sherlock’s own concussion causes memory loss so severe that she doesn’t recognize Savitch or remember their son, Sean. The whole incident seems more suspicious when a blood test from the splatter of the man Sherlock hit reveals that he’s Justice Cummings, an analyst for the CIA. The agency’s refusal to cooperate makes Savitch certain that Bexholt is involved in a deep-laid plot. Meanwhile, Special Agent Griffin Hammersmith is visiting friends who run a cafe in the touristy Virginia town of Gaffers Ridge. Hammersmith, who has psychic abilities, is taken aback when he hears in his mind a woman’s cry for help. Reporter Carson DeSilva, who came to the area to interview a Nobel Prize winner, also has psychic abilities, and she overhears the thoughts of Rafer Bodine, a young man who has apparently kidnapped and possibly murdered three teenage girls. Unluckily, she blurts out her thoughts, and she’s snatched and tied up in a cellar by Bodine. Bodine may be a killer, but he’s also the nephew of the sheriff and the son of the local bigwig. So the sheriff arrests Hammersmith and refuses to accept his FBI credentials. Bodine's mother has psychic powers strong enough to kill, but she meets her match in Hammersmith, DeSilva, Savitch, and Sherlock.

Greed, love, and extrasensory abilities combine in two middling mysteries.

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-9365-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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