Coursing action with a sci-fi flavor.

BORROWED BONES

BRAD STOUT ADVENTURE #4

In Salter’s latest thriller (The eBay Guardian, 2013, etc.), the recurring protagonist is sent to Puerto Rico for a covert assignment that may have global implications.

Maj. Brad Stout is having trouble getting details on his latest Unexplained Radiation Phenomenon mission. He’s too busy trying to protect the congressman who’s supposed to give him the particulars. When Stout finally arrives at the compound, he has a lot on his plate: He’s in charge of a team of scientists assembled to explain and possibly thwart a phenomenon that could be catastrophic to the planet, and terrorists are trying to force their way into the building. Before Stout even learns exactly what his mission is—at which point the scientific element enters the story, over a third of the way in—he saves the congressman and his mistress, Lindsey, from a tiger shark; is attacked by a snake; and lands himself in a gunfight. Without revealing the precise URP that Stout faces, Salter presents scenes of scientists discussing theories and predictions to plan the team’s next step. But the story never lags, continually building intrigue and suspense, and there’s the constant threat of the terrorists, who repeatedly try breaching security and lead Stout to teach the scientists how to handle guns. The novel shows shades of sci-fi, but it’s primarily an action-crammed thriller. Salter avoids lingering on violence and any vulgar language, though his protagonist may be a bit too wholesome this time around; Stout, who’s cut off from his wife, Mary Lou, and their twins, hardly seems tempted by Lindsey, whose obvious come-ons consequently have little dramatic impact. His reaction to Bertram Skitlik, however, is unmistakable, as the mere mention of the peevish scientist’s name causes Stout to grimace and come close to swearing (“egotistical a-hole”). And that’s just one of the many obstacles that readers will enjoy watching Stout overcome.

Coursing action with a sci-fi flavor.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-1492702702

Page Count: 198

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2013

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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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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

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THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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