Reading Perez-Reverte is one of the most choice pleasures contemporary fiction offers.



This superbly entertaining and intricate thriller, following close on the heels of its predecessors, The Flanders Panel (1994, not reviewed) and The Dumas Club (1997), confirms its Spanish author’s growing reputation as the thinking man’s Robert Ludlum.

When Vatican security is breached by an unknown hacker who breaks into the Pope’s personal computer, all-purpose emissary (and fräre semblable, if you will, to James Bond) Father Lorenzo Quart is sent to Seville to investigate two mysterious deaths, learn the meaning of cryptic messages that importune the Pontiff to rescue a dilapidated church, Our Lady of the Tears—and also to deduce the identity of the high-tech interloper papal subordinates have dubbed “Vespers.” Perez-Reverte smoothly works into his unfailingly absorbing narrative a colorful parade of power-brokers and schemers, ecclesiastical and secular alike. Among them: Cardinal Iwaszkiewicz, the Pope’s truculent countryman, who mourns the bygone Inquisition; bank executive Pencho Gavira, who has lost his beautiful wife Macarena to a young bullfighter and fights to keep control of a “development coup” that requires Our Lady to be demolished; an amusing criminal trio (who might have stepped out of the pages of Oliver Twist) comprising “former fake lawyer” Don Ibrahim, passe flamenco singer La Nina, and unfrocked boxer El Potro; and—best of all—Our Lady’s Father Priamo Ferro, “an insubordinate astronomer priest” whose stargazing avocation coexists uneasily with his stubborn refusal to hold onto his imperiled church. Father Lorenzo keeps encountering suspicious people, any of whom might be Vespers, as the body count rises and as ingeniously juxtaposed plots and counterplots twist toward a climax that puts Quart at the amorous mercy of the seductive Macarena and sees Father Ferro arrested for a murder to which he has perhaps falsely confessed. The identity of Vespers, and a stunning disclosure about Father Ferro saved for the very last sentence, bring this literate whodunit to a deliciously satisfying conclusion.

Reading Perez-Reverte is one of the most choice pleasures contemporary fiction offers.

Pub Date: April 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-15-100283-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1998

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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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Child builds tension to unbearable extremes, then blows it out in sharply choreographed violence, even if his plot has more...


From the Jack Reacher series , Vol. 5

Smashingly suspenseful fifth in Child’s series (Running Blind, 2000, etc.) lands this British author’s rootless, laconic action hero in southwest Texas, where a femme fatale lures him into a family squabble that inevitably turns violent.

In the kind of daylight-noir setting that Jim Thompson loved, ex-military cop Jack Reacher has his thumb out on a lonely west Texas highway when he’s picked up by Carmine Greer, the Mexican-American wife of bad-ol’-boy Sloop Greer. It seems that Sloop, elder son of a white-trash-turned-oil-rich ranching dynasty, is nearing the end of a prison term for tax evasion, and Carmine, whose body Reacher sees is marked with signs of physical abuse, wants Reacher to be her bodyguard—or, failing that, kill the man in such a way that Carmine can still hold on to her terminally cute six-year-old daughter Ellie. Reacher refuses but decides to meet the folks: Rusty, Sloop’s racist, charmless mother, and Bobby, Sloop’s stupid, pugnacious brother. Meanwhile, a trio of paid assassins is littering the Texas roadside with corpses, starting with Sloop’s lawyer, Al Eugene. In a set-piece as good as anything in Elmore Leonard, Bobby sends two ranch-hands to ambush Reacher at an Abilene roadhouse filled with 20 other cowboys spoiling for a fight. Reacher walks away without a scratch, telling Bobby that his hospitalized ranch-hands have “quit.” Child twists his increasingly hokey plot into a pretzel when Sloop is found dead and Carmine confesses to killing him. Reacher just can’t believe that Carmine is guilty and teams up with Alice Aarons, a leggy Jewish lesbian fresh out of law school, who trusts him with her car, her handgun, and her life.

Child builds tension to unbearable extremes, then blows it out in sharply choreographed violence, even if his plot has more holes in it than the shirt Reacher uses for target practice.

Pub Date: July 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-14726-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2001

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