Hechtman’s lucky 13th is a character-driven cozy whose mystery is solid enough to raise it above the average.

HOOKS CAN BE DECEIVING

An exciting new opportunity is fraught with unexpected problems.

Molly Pink and Adele Abrams both work at Shedd & Royal Books and More, whose More is a yarn/crafts area. When the Craftee Channel wants to film their new show Creating with Crochet at the store, their boss asks Molly to act as the contact person, affronting Adele, who considers herself the crochet expert and is a bit of a drama queen. The show has hired as host former teen star Rory Graham, whose crocheting abilities are nil. Hoping to get more air time, Adele agrees to teach her but finds Rory a most reluctant learner. Molly, a widow who lives with several dogs and cats and sometimes her musician son, has been dating prominent lawyer Mason Fields ever since her relationship with Homicide Detective Barry Greenberg foundered on her inability to stay out of detecting (On the Hook, 2018, etc.) and his inability to put anything ahead of his job. Meanwhile, the store is a meeting place for the Tarzana Hookers, whose newest members are Connie Richards and Marianne Freeman. Connie seems to be a companion for Marianne, a quiet woman with noticeable problems focusing. When Molly goes to Marianne’s house to return some crocheting she left at the store, the cops, including Barry, are already there because Connie’s been electrocuted on the lawn, maybe accidentally, maybe not. Disagreeing with his partner, who thinks Marianne is guilty, Barry secretly visits Molly to get more information. Her sleuthing reveals that Marianne is on oodles of pills her overprotective brother Errol has forced her to take for some nervous problems. Errol also insists that Marianne have a minder and wants her to sell the valuable property she lives on. Can Molly possibly identify the person who killed Connie and keep the crochet show from disaster while juggling two boyfriends?

Hechtman’s lucky 13th is a character-driven cozy whose mystery is solid enough to raise it above the average.

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68331-884-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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POP GOES THE WEASEL

After a flight in fantasy with When the Wind Blows (1998), Patterson goes to ground with another slash-and-squirm psychokiller page-turner, this one dedicated to “the millions of Alex Cross readers, who so frequently ask, can’t you write faster?” By day, Geoffrey Shafer is a charming, 42-year-old British Embassy paper-pusher with a picture-perfect family and a shady past as an MI-6 secret agent. Come sundown, he swallows a pharmacy of psychoactive pills, gulps three black coffees loaded with sugar, and roams the streets of Washington, D.C., in a battered cab, where, disguised as a black man, he rolls dice to determine which among his black female fares he—ll murder. Afterwards he dumps his naked victims in crime-infested back alleys of black- slum neighborhoods, then sends e-mails boasting of his accomplishments to three other former MI-6 agents involved in a hellish Internet role-playing game. “I sensed I was at the start of another homicide mess,” sighs forensic-psychologist turned homicide-detective Alex Cross. Cross yearns to catch the “Jane Doe murderer” but is thwarted by Det. Chief George Pittman, who assigns sexy Det. Patsy Hampton to investigate Cross and come up with a reason for dismissing him. Meanwhile, Cross’s fiancÇe is kidnaped during a Bermuda vacation, and an anonymous e-mail warns him to back off. He doesn’t, of course, and just when it appears that Patterson is sleep-walking through his story, Cross nabs Shafer minutes after Shafer kills Det. Hampton. During the subsequent high-visibility trail, Shafer manages to make the jury believe that he’s innocent and that Cross was trying to frame him. When all seems lost, a sympathetic British intelligence chief offers to help Cross bring down Shafer, and the other homicidal game-players, during a showdown on the breezy beaches of Jamaica. Kinky mayhem, a cartoonish villain, regular glimpses of the kindly Cross caring for his loved ones, and an ending that spells a sequel: Patterson’s fans couldn’t ask for more.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-69328-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1999

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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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