A pleasant, cozy mystery, offering an unusual setting and an engaging heroine.


COLD CASE NO. 99-5219

From the A Samantha Church Mystery series

Grandview, Colorado-based reporter Samantha Church tackles the 12-year-old cold case of a murdered infant in the fourth series mystery by Ferrendelli (Last Things, 2016, etc.).

Sam frequently visits the cemetery to pay respects to her sister, Robin Marie Marino, but usually avoids the grave of her own husband, Jonathan Church. Her daughter, April, brings her attention to the headstone of an unidentified, murdered infant girl that includes the number of a tips line. After noticing fresh flowers on the grave, Sam is curious, so she researches the case. As she uncovers new details, she tries to convince Detective James Page, who’s long been haunted by the unsolved mystery, to reopen the investigation. Sam is intrigued by a psychic named Dixie who says that she believed that the baby’s mother was underage—particularly when Dixie says other things that Sam knows are true. But it’s Sam’s own tenacious digging and questioning that move things forward. At the same time, Sam deals with personal problems, including her fight to regain custody of April, her alcoholism, and her own health issues. Returning characters from earlier books—newspaper publisher Wilson Cole Jr., Sam’s grandmother Frances Marino and her ranch caretaker Howard Skinner, newspaper editor Nick Weeks, and Sam’s mean mother-in-law Esther Church—provide support and conflict. Newcomers to the series will be aware that they’re missing some back story, but they’ll still be able to follow along. Sam is a likable character who makes no secret of her shortcomings, and the story is fast-paced and engaging. Canny mystery fans will identify the main suspects early on, though, and few will be surprised by the culprit’s identity. Occasional substitutions of near-homophones (such as “she took a shuttering breath”) are distracting and could have been resolved by stronger editing. The descriptions are generally solid, although the author neglects to describe Sam herself, allowing the reader to see her only through her own eyes (self-critical, focusing on her weight and personal flaws) or some others’ (adulation, mentioning her beauty).

A pleasant, cozy mystery, offering an unusual setting and an engaging heroine.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-984055-73-6

Page Count: 276

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?


Patterson's thrillers (Virgin, 1980; Black Market, 1986) have plummeted in quality since his promising debut in The Thomas Berryman Number (1976)—with this latest being the sorriest yet: a clanky and witless policer about a criminal mastermind and the cop sworn to take him down. Aside from watching sympathetic homicide dick John ("Stef") Stefanovich comeing to terms with a wheelchair-bound life—legacy of a shotgun blast to the back by drug-and-gun-running archfiend Alexandre St.-Germain—the major interest here lies in marvelling at the author's trashing of fiction convention. The whopper comes early: although St.-Germain is explicity described as being machine-gunned to death by three vigilante cops in a swank brothel (". . .a submachine gun blast nearly ripped off the head of Alexandre St.-Germain"; "The mobster's head and most of his neck had been savaged by the machine-gun volley. The body looked desecrated. . ."), before you know it this latter-day Moriarty is stepping unscathed out of an airplane. What gives? Authorial cheating, that's what—thinly glossed over with some mumbling later on about a "body double." Not that St.-Germain's ersatz death generated much suspense anyway, with subsequent action focusing on, among other items, the gory killings of assorted mob bosses by one of the vigilante cops, and Stef's viewing of pornographic tapes confiscated from that brothel. But readers generous enough to plod on will get to read about the newly Lazarus-ized St.-Germain's crass efforts to revitalize and consolidate the world's crime syndicates ("the Midnight Club"), Stef's predictable tumble for a sexy true-crime writer, and how (isn't one miracle enough for Patterson?) at book's end Stef walks again and gets to embrace a rogue cop who's murdered several people. Ironsides with a badge and a lobotomy.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 1988

ISBN: 0446676411

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1988

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet