Schaffer, a former police officer, imbues the character-driven story with realism and heart-pounding suspense.

A female cop cracks a case from the past.

Now that she’s helped solve a serial killing (The Thief of All Light, 2018), Carrie Santero has settled into her dream job as an investigator with the Vieira County DA’s office, which covers a wide region of western Pennsylvania. As the office’s only female detective, Carrie gets no respect, and when a woman is raped by a man the victim describes as a police officer, Carrie’s boss shunts her off to another, apparently safer case so she won't be investigating her fellow officers. She takes up the new case out in the boonies, but the rape is always on her mind, and she is determined to come back to it at a later time. When Liston, Pennsylvania, police chief Steve Auburn was called out by some hunters who think they’ve found a human bone, he immediately knew what he was looking at. Back in 1981, schoolgirl Hope Pugh vanished, opening a case that’s never been closed. Sent out to help, Carrie discovers a moldering box of evidence containing photos, notes, a blanket, a knife, a sock, and a teddy bear. Using modern techniques and advice from her mentor, disgraced former cop Jacob Rein, she pulls prints from the knife and finds residue on the sock that is most likely semen. Pondering a letter signed by Jacob’s uncle, Police Chief Oliver Rein, she realizes that Jacob and Hope were the same age and knew each other. Carrie visits Jacob’s dying father, Benjamin Rein, who claims to have killed more than one person. A flashback to Jacob’s childhood shows him and his best friend targeted by school bullies. Jacob was practically raised by his uncle Oliver because Benjamin, a Vietnam vet, was an alcoholic with PTSD. Jacob became so close to Hope that he was devastated when she disappeared the night he was supposed to meet her in a secret place in the woods. Back in the present, Auburn wants to write off Hope’s death as an accident, but Carrie won’t stand for that. The past that alternating chapters present reveals a far different story than official records.

Schaffer, a former police officer, imbues the character-driven story with realism and heart-pounding suspense.

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4967-1725-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019


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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020


As in summer movies, a triple dose of violence conceals the absence of real menace when neither victims nor avengers stir...

Dr. Alex Cross has left Metro DC Homicide for the FBI, but it’s business as usual in this laughably rough-hewn fairy tale of modern-day white slavery.

According to reliable sources, more people are being sold into slavery than ever before, and it all seems to be going down on the FBI’s watch. Atlanta ex-reporter Elizabeth Connolly, who looks just like Claudia Schiffer, is the ninth target over the past two years to be abducted by a husband-and-wife pair who travel the country at the behest of the nefarious Pasha Sorokin, the Wolf of the Red Mafiya. The only clues are those deliberately left behind by the kidnappers, who snatch fashion designer Audrey Meek from the King of Prussia Mall in full view of her children, or patrons like Audrey’s purchaser, who ends up releasing her and killing himself. Who you gonna call? Alex Cross, of course. Even though he still hasn’t finished the Agency’s training course, all the higher-ups he runs into, from hardcases who trust him to lickspittles seething with envy, have obviously read his dossier (Four Blind Mice, 2002, etc.), and they know the new guy is “close to psychic,” a “one-man flying squad” who’s already a legend, “like Clarice Starling in the movies.” It’s lucky that Cross’s reputation precedes him, because his fond creator doesn’t give him much to do here but chase suspects identified by obliging tipsters and worry about his family (Alex Jr.’s mother, alarmed at Cross’s dangerous job, is suing for custody) while the Wolf and his cronies—Sterling, Mr. Potter, the Art Director, Sphinx, and the Marvel—kidnap more dishy women (and the occasional gay man) and kill everybody who gets in their way, and quite a few poor souls who don’t.

As in summer movies, a triple dose of violence conceals the absence of real menace when neither victims nor avengers stir the slightest sympathy.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2003

ISBN: 0-316-60290-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2003

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