Hebert (Odd Man Out, 2013, etc.) keeps the schemes and double crosses coming so relentlessly that he gives this New Orleans...

THE BUDDY SYSTEM

A pair of New Orleans cops gets the bright idea to lean on some of the bad guys they keep busting for drugs to help them out of a jam. Then the bad guys get the same idea.

Three years after Katrina left the Big Easy a basket case, the city is still hurting. Detective Jack Hardy, who once left his bride at the altar, and his African-American partner, Early Moore, are under serious pressure to provide names for the wiretapping unit they’ve been assigned to. It seems only natural for Jack to ask Lamont Brown to help him out. Since he’s already agreed to help Lamont dispose of the proceeds of his latest home invasion, why shouldn’t Lamont return the favor by dropping a few names over the airwaves to make Jack and Early look good? Things go fine for about five minutes. Then rival drug dealer Jamario Neal starts to make noises about moving in on Lamont’s territory; one of Lamont’s foot soldiers who talks to Jamario gets himself ventilated seconds later; and the hapless cops find that they’re among the suspicious parties Lamont has identified on the wire. Meanwhile, Lamont decides that his cousin Jello, an unsuccessful contractor, needs to get a piece of the city’s reconstruction business and demands that Jack hook him up with the right contact. Deciding optimistically that the right contact is Gayle White, one of the city’s liaisons to the federal agencies funding the work, Jack approaches her, then realizes he has quite another interest in her, one that will put her in serious danger. From that point on, cast members fall like dominoes.

Hebert (Odd Man Out, 2013, etc.) keeps the schemes and double crosses coming so relentlessly that he gives this New Orleans take on The Wire a comic edge even though it’s never exactly funny, not even when Lamont tells Jello his steadfast rule: “[D]on’t snitch on nobody unless it pays.”

Pub Date: May 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4328-2817-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Five Star/Gale Cengage

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 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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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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