Sordid and mindlessly sadistic. There may be an audience for stuff this nasty, but wary readers will pass. Sadly, a sequel’s...

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DESERT PLACES

Brotherly love hammered ad nauseam in an unsavory horror debut.

Thirtysomething Andy Thomas, a successful horror novelist, is about to experience how unsettling it can be when life decides to imitate art: in other words, he's about to be scared silly. The note, contained in an unstamped envelope, seems at first unworthy of serious attention: “There is a body buried on your property covered in your blood,” it says. Andy smiles, chuckles even—a fan, he thinks. In his experience, horror fans are prone to that kind of sick joke; still, why not check it out? He does and, gulp, it checks. He finds poor Rita Jones, a young schoolteacher who’s been missing for about a month, and whose corpse will, in a variety of irrefutable ways, tell tales to police pathologists, tales concerning Andy. In short, he's been well and truly framed—by his fraternal twin, it soon turns out. Andy hasn't seen Orson since they were 20, when, inexplicably, the latter walked out of the room they shared at Appalachian State University and vanished. What’s he been up to since? Why, killing people, innocent people at random, a dozen of them, slicing their hearts out, depositing each in a cardboard box, and then, the collection complete, delivering it to the White House, though without benefit of the usual accompanying apologia. So explain, please. Neither Orson nor the author appears eager to do that. Ambiguous, also, is exactly what game Orson is inviting Andy to play. Whatever it is, Andy’s unwilling. By now, however, he's convinced there's only one way to deal with a sibling gone psychopathic, setting the stage for a clash that gives fresh meaning to the phrase blood brothers.

Sordid and mindlessly sadistic. There may be an audience for stuff this nasty, but wary readers will pass. Sadly, a sequel’s in the works.

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2004

ISBN: 0-312-28644-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dunne/Minotaur

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2003

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One protest from an outraged innocent says it all: “This is America. This is Wyoming.”

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LONG RANGE

Once again, Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett gets mixed up in a killing whose principal suspect is his old friend Nate Romanowski, whose attempts to live off the grid keep breaking down in a series of felony charges.

If Judge Hewitt hadn’t bent over to pick up a spoon that had fallen from his dinner table, the sniper set up nearly a mile from his house in the gated community of the Eagle Mountain Club would have ended his life. As it was, the victim was Sue Hewitt, leaving the judge alive and free to rail and threaten anyone he suspected of the shooting. Incoming Twelve Sleep County Sheriff Brendan Kapelow’s interest in using the case to promote his political ambitions and the judge’s inability to see further than his nose make them the perfect targets for a frame-up of Nate, who just wants to be left alone in the middle of nowhere to train his falcons and help his bride, Liv Brannon, raise their baby, Kestrel. Nor are the sniper, the sheriff, and the judge Nate’s only enemies. Orlando Panfile has been sent to Wyoming by the Sinaloan drug cartel to avenge the deaths of the four assassins whose careers Nate and Joe ended last time out (Wolf Pack, 2019). So it’s up to Joe, with some timely data from his librarian wife, Marybeth, to hire a lawyer for Nate, make sure he doesn’t bust out of jail before his trial, identify the real sniper, who continues to take an active role in the proceedings, and somehow protect him from a killer who regards Nate’s arrest as an unwelcome complication. That’s quite a tall order for someone who can’t shoot straight, who keeps wrecking his state-issued vehicles, and whose appalling mother-in-law, Missy Vankeuren Hand, has returned from her latest European jaunt to suck up all the oxygen in Twelve Sleep County to hustle some illegal drugs for her cancer-stricken sixth husband. But fans of this outstanding series will know better than to place their money against Joe.

One protest from an outraged innocent says it all: “This is America. This is Wyoming.”

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53823-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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