Entertaining romance pleasantly situated at a castle in Ireland but with a mystery that doesn’t quite tally.

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The Child of Castlemoor

In Pitrone’s debut novel, a young woman is invited to work with an artist who may be her father.

In 1952, lovely Meghan Fitzpatrick, 22, paints miniature porcelain portraits in New York City. After attending an exhibition of the works of artist Michael “Mick” Sullivan, she’s invited to Ireland by Shamus—whose mother is Mick’s mother-in-law—to be Mick’s apprentice. She accepts, distressing suitor Frank McHugh, who hastily proposes as she prepares to sail to Ireland. Shamus’ invitation is part ruse: He believes the woman is Meghan Sullivan, kidnapped nearly 20 years ago and believed dead. Arriving at Castlemoor in southern Ireland, Meghan meets the individuals who reside there—the Sullivans, O’Neills and McFlynns, including unnervingly gorgeous Quinn McFlynn, who literally sweeps Meghan off her feet. Many notice Meghan’s strong resemblance to Mary Kate, Mick’s wife, who died after falling from a cliff. Rose, the dead matriarch, presents herself in spirit to servants and family members, including Meghan. Rose is determined to find out who murdered her and kidnapped Meghan as a child. Suspects abound, including a disgruntled relative who labels Meghan a gold digger. The author aptly sets the stage at Castlemoor by the sea, creating a host of characters that may be involved in crimes that are current and/or 20 years old. Outspoken Rose functions as a one-woman Greek (Irish?) chorus, which can be amusing and at times irritating, as she sometimes states what is blatantly obvious while remaining in the dark about her own demise. The romance between Meghan and Quinn is strictly PG yet solidly developed, with Quinn in dogged, gentlemanly pursuit. From the start, there is little doubt that Meghan is the long-lost daughter, though that plot strand is treated as unresolved for roughly a third of the book. Mick’s reaction to Meghan’s return is subdued but may perhaps be ascribed to years of grieving the loss of his wife and child. In the end, the final summation of Rose’s murder, Meghan’s kidnapping, Mary Kate’s death and other crimes is a stretch.

Entertaining romance pleasantly situated at a castle in Ireland but with a mystery that doesn’t quite tally.

Pub Date: March 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1493573455

Page Count: 300

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2014

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

ECHO BURNING

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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