An appealing hero, who might be even more appealing if he cut back on the one-liners next time, and a colorful entourage...

HARD STOP

A successful but overstressed engineering executive turned contented neophyte carpenter suddenly finds his two worlds about to collide.

For 20 years, Sam Acquillo (Head Wounds, 2008, etc.) had been a golden boy at Consolidated Global Energies, an authentic fast-tracker until the day he left. It had been an unpleasant parting orchestrated largely by George Donovan, the Chairman of the Board. But that’s evidently ancient history for Donovan because now he needs things from Sam. He needs Sam’s first-class brain, his famous ability to commit wholeheartedly to a task and, above all, his discretion. In particular, he needs Sam to find Iku Kinjo, his lover. Promised a packet of money for a successful outcome, Sam hires on. Though he’d known Iku only briefly as a Con Globe consultant, he recalls her vividly. Brilliant, ambitious and remarkably beautiful, Iku Kinjo would strike no one as the kind of young woman to go missing without sufficient cause. Sam’s right to think so, of course, but in the end that mysterious cause proves infinitely more complicated and murderous than he imagined.

An appealing hero, who might be even more appealing if he cut back on the one-liners next time, and a colorful entourage that includes endearing Eddie, the anti-Marley dog, make for a lively and entertaining mix.

Pub Date: May 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-57962-183-4

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Permanent Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2009

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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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THE BLACK ICE

Second tense, tightly wound tangle of a case for Hieronymous Bosch (The Black Echo, 1991). This time out, the LAPD homicide cop, who's been exiled to Hollywood Division for his bumptious behavior, sniffs out the bloody trail of the designer drug "black ice." Connelly (who covers crime for the Los Angeles Times) again flexes his knowledge of cop ways—and of cop-novel cliches. Cast from the hoary mold of the maverick cop, Bosch pushes his way onto the story's core case—the apparent suicide of a narc—despite warnings by top brass to lay off. Meanwhile, Bosch's boss, a prototypical pencil-pushing bureaucrat hoping to close out a majority of Hollywood's murder cases by New Year's Day, a week hence, assigns the detective a pile of open cases belonging to a useless drunk, Lou Porter. One of the cases, the slaying of an unidentified Hispanic, seems to tie in to the death of the narc, which Bosch begins to read as murder stemming from the narc's dirty involvement in black ice. When Porter is murdered shortly after Bosch speaks to him, and then the detective's love affair with an ambitious pathologist crashes, Bosch decides to head for Mexico, where clues to all three murders point. There, the well-oiled, ten- gear narrative really picks up speed as Bosch duels with corrupt cops; attends the bullfights; breaks into a fly-breeding lab that's the distribution center for Mexico's black-ice kingpin; and takes part in a raid on the kingpin's ranch that concludes with Bosch waving his jacket like a matador's cape at a killer bull on the rampage. But the kingpin escapes, leading to a not wholly unexpected twist—and to a touching assignation with the dead narc's widow. Expertly told, and involving enough—but lacking the sheer artistry and heart-clutching thrills of, say, David Lindsay's comparable Stuart Haydon series (Body of Evidence, etc.).

Pub Date: June 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-316-15382-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1993

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