A genre-bending literary thriller worth the time.

THE SIEGE

Pirates; serial killings; steamy, unrequited love: Pérez-Reverte (Pirates of the Levant, 2010, etc.) imbues the sensational with significance.

 It's 1811, and as Napoleon’s army relentlessly shells the port of Cádiz, Spain, the city finds itself the target of a much more sinister presence. A shadowy figure is brutally murdering young women, and as amoral policeman Rogelio Tizón stalks this prey, he begins to realize that the murders and the French bombs are somehow intertwined. At the same time, the handsome Lolita Palma, upstanding owner of a shipping company, agrees to do business with corsair Pépé Lobo and soon finds herself drawn to his rough charms. And a mysterious taxidermist sends a secret carrier pigeon to a French captain, adding one more pin to his map of bombs. As Napoleon’s war rages on, the world finds itself in a vortex of change, with science competing against faith and tradition to help create a new world order. Pérez-Reverte begins with several different strands of story and weaves them into a rather impressive web. The level of detail is meticulous but also beautiful; his descriptions of the town and people of Cádiz capture colors, smells and personalities, making the page come to life, and he balances these sensory passages with dense observations about history, metaphysics, science and human nature. Whether the brutality of the murderer, and in fact of the war, is a result of “the imagination [running] out of control” or “atmospheric conditions” doesn’t ultimately matter to the story. Pérez-Reverte presents a chessboard on which the epic battle of science and fate becomes the story. In the end, it’s about “the dark chasms of the human mind,” a timeless theme if ever there was one. 

A genre-bending literary thriller worth the time.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4000-6968-2

Page Count: 624

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 8, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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Brown’s ear for Texas dialect and her earnest characterizations of cynical lawmen with stout hearts make for an enjoyable...

TOUGH CUSTOMER

A manhunt for a homicidal stalker reunites an ex-cop and his long-lost daughter, in Brown’s latest thriller (Rainwater, 2009).

Private eye Dodge Hanley, who left the Houston police for Atlanta years before, is summoned back to Texas by his long-ago flame Caroline King, now a successful realtor. Caroline wants Dodge, who once rescued her from an abusive fiancé, to lend his sleuthing skills to find Oren Starks, the man who burst in on her daughter Berry and Berry’s co-worker Ben at Caroline’s lake house near the small town of Merritt. Shooting and wounding Ben, Oren fled, but not before vowing to murder Berry. A dismissed co-worker at the Houston marketing firm where Berry and Ben work, Oren was unhinged by his thwarted efforts to woo Berry and another colleague, Sally Buckland. Dodge (who, unbeknownst to Berry, is her father) and local deputy Ski Nyland join forces to track Oren down. Ski’s call to Sally finds her strangely reluctant to corroborate her previous claim of sexual harassment against Oren, perhaps because Oren has a gun to her head during the call. Despite a leg injury sustained at Caroline’s house, Oren confounds pursuers by somehow managing to be in several places at once. He breaks into a Merritt motel room, fatally wounding a teenager who surprises him there. Sally’s body is found hanging in the closet of Berry’s Houston home. Oren takes an elderly couple hostage in a campground, and kills again before disappearing into the Big Thicket, a treacherous, swampy national park. Brown’s trademark romance spiced with raunch serves her well as she orchestrates two parallel lust stories: Caroline’s and Dodge’s passionate but brief encounter in 1978, and the present frisson between Berry and Dodge’s younger doppelgänger, hard-boiled cop Ski. The narrative, slowed by too many talky scenes and descriptive filler, eventually rewards readers’ patience with a bang-up surprise ending. 

Brown’s ear for Texas dialect and her earnest characterizations of cynical lawmen with stout hearts make for an enjoyable summer read.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4165-6310-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2010

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

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THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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