Some thrills, but in the end this asks too much of the hero, and of the reader.


Simon Riske returns for another high-octane ride.

Something of a modern Renaissance man, reformed thief and Marseilles gangster Riske blends a criminal youth with more socially acceptable adult activities and, in addition to his day job as a restorer of world-class sports cars, markets himself as a high-end fixer. When the novel opens, he is engaged in stealing back a Monet first stolen from the Rijksmuseum. Predictable complications arise, allowing Riske to show off his admirable driving skills, and the stage is set. In this somewhat murky installment, Riske is asked to mediate the release of Rafael de Bourbon, an old friend who is being held by Thai officials on questionable charges, but before he can secure the man's freedom, de Bourbon and several others are killed in a shootout. It turns out Rafa was privy to a large-scale swindle involving the sovereign wealth funds of several nations, and he was killed to preserve the secrets of the swindle. Riske naturally decides to pursue justice for Rafa and to uncover the swindle, partly to benefit Rafa's wife, who once had a thing with Riske. If all this seems a little contrived, fear not, there's more. Part of the loot amassed in the swindle has gone to a secret account, and in a parallel subplot it's revealed that this money is being used to subvert European efforts to accommodate and resettle refugees: Rich nationalistic racists are bankrolling a suicide-bomb mission that will once and for all destroy any humanitarian impulses European governments might have. As Riske uncovers the details of the wealth-fund thefts he also begins to unravel the connections to the rich nationalists, and eventually the two investigations become one. Riske is a likable character, a nice blending of quick wit, a misspent youth, and better impulses; he's not above picking a pocket or stealing a Ferrari, but he's on the side of the angels. In this adventure, however, he seems inappropriately pitted against social and economic forces of grave and genuine magnitude. Fascist forces are loose in the world, refugees perish horribly trying to secure a future, and there's Riske, tootling along in a borrowed (legitimately, this time) Ferrari, headed to Cannes to make it right. Riske can steal your Monet back, Riske can save your boy and secure your inheritance, but save the world? Simon Riske?

Some thrills, but in the end this asks too much of the hero, and of the reader.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-31645-601-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The story is sadly familiar, the treatment claustrophobically intense.


Twenty years after Chloe Davis’ father was convicted of killing half a dozen young women, someone seems to be celebrating the anniversary by extending the list.

No one in little Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, was left untouched by Richard Davis’ confession, least of all his family members. His wife, Mona, tried to kill herself and has been incapacitated ever since. His son, Cooper, became so suspicious that even now it’s hard for him to accept pharmaceutical salesman Daniel Briggs, whose sister, Sophie, also vanished 20 years ago, as Chloe’s fiance. And Chloe’s own nightmares, which lead her to rebuff New York Times reporter Aaron Jansen, who wants to interview her for an anniversary story, are redoubled when her newest psychiatric patient, Lacey Deckler, follows the path of high school student Aubrey Gravino by disappearing and then turning up dead. The good news is that Dick Davis, whom Chloe has had no contact with ever since he was imprisoned after his confession, obviously didn’t commit these new crimes. The bad news is that someone else did, someone who knows a great deal about the earlier cases, someone who could be very close to Chloe indeed. First-timer Willingham laces her first-person narrative with a stifling sense of victimhood that extends even to the survivors and a series of climactic revelations, at least some of which are guaranteed to surprise the most hard-bitten readers.

The story is sadly familiar, the treatment claustrophobically intense.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-2508-0382-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


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

Did you like this book?