A tightly structured war novel, written with intelligence and verve.

Shalimar

A NOVEL OF NORTH AFRICA DURING WORLD WAR II

From the Lynch's Corner Series series , Vol. 13

Summers (The Shain Family at Shakertown, 1808-1922, etc.) offers a World War II thriller about espionage and betrayal overseas.

Randy Emerson studied archaeology at Harvard University, and then spent some postgraduation years living in French North Africa, becoming fluent in both French and Arabic. The suave, handsome man also created a vast network of friends and professional contacts—the perfect cover for a spy, which is exactly why the U.S. War Department approaches him in July 1941. He’s sent off for training in several countries and then dispatched to Casablanca, Morocco, tasked with hunting down traitors and enemy spies there. He’s told to assimilate as seamlessly as possible into the local culture, cultivate sources of information, and, of course, trust no one. Summers describes the setting as “an open city in North Africa where spies, current and ex-military, gun runners, pimps and scoundrels and all manner of law-breakers gathered to feast off the excess of this new world war.” Emerson is also given extraordinary autonomy in deciding how to handle problems, such as moles, as they arise. He answers to Robert Murphy, the head of a group known as the “Twelve Apostles,” and quickly finds a teammate in Mungo Craig, a native German speaker who grew up in French Québec. The two quickly establish home bases where they can clandestinely meet, send radio transmissions, and begin their hunts. Summers is a prolific author of both fiction and nonfiction, and this is the 13th volume of his Lynch’s Corner Series. Summers’ experience shows in the polished prose as well as in the rigorous research evident on every page; his knowledge of North African culture, as well as the history of the period, is formidable. Also, the story provides something of a concise tutorial on the beginnings of the Office of Strategic Services, the less bureaucratic precursor to the CIA. There’s no scarcity of sharply conveyed intrigue, but the dialogue has the feel of 1940s film noir, which sometimes makes it seem like an homage and other times like a parody. Still, there’s more than enough action here to satisfy fans of historical thrillers, and plenty of edification to boot.

A tightly structured war novel, written with intelligence and verve.

Pub Date: June 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5329-3935-8

Page Count: 388

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2016

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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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