An emotionally complex and ultimately moving romance.

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SHATTERED TREASURE

Two young people fall in love despite an assortment of obstacles.

In this novel’s opening pages, young Addison Morgan is attending the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, and visiting a loud, unruly fraternity party mainly to placate her boyfriend, Philip Thomas. Addison has only one drink, but the punch is spiked, and when the alcohol hits her while she’s driving shortly afterward, she causes a car accident that badly bangs up a young woman named Ami Tant. The mishap is almost equally traumatizing for Addison, since her own beloved sister, Casey, had the previous year lost her life to a drunk driver. Addison forms an unlikely bond with Ami. The two become good friends while Addison is living with her aunt Brenda, working at the Olive Garden, and attending school. At first, Ami’s policeman brother, Logan, is determined to find and prosecute the driver who hurt his sister, but he quickly feels a strong attraction to Addison—one she reciprocates, if awkwardly, in the wake of her breakup with the increasingly unstable Philip. When Philip’s violent desperation forces Addison into an unplanned personal emergency, she falls back on her passionate Christian faith (She “couldn’t imagine a life without those countless lessons of Jesus”). Not knowing what else to do, she initially pushes Logan away. In this intriguing romance, Patterson (Chasing Paradise, 2017) presents an intricate emotional journey in a prose style that’s readably straightforward. While watching Logan play baseball, Addison reflexively compares the two men in her life, observing the cop’s “long, strong body slinging every ball with all his effort, his whole being revealing his strength,” noting it’s “the exact opposite of Philip who threatened and punished when he didn’t get his way.” Unfortunately, the writing sometimes becomes clichéd (“the silence was deafening”; “he had somehow stolen her heart”). While several of Addison’s decisions may have some readers howling in disagreement, the audience will nevertheless be genuinely eager to find out what happens next. In the end, the author delivers a poignant story about the unexpected love a young woman scarred by personal tragedy finds.

An emotionally complex and ultimately moving romance.

Pub Date: Dec. 16, 2019

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 355

Publisher: Springbrook Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2020

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Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

ONE GOOD DEED

Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

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Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

CROOKED RIVER

FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast finds evil afoot in his latest action-filled adventure (Verses for the Dead, 2018, etc.).

Imagine Florida beachcombers’ shock when they discover a shoe with a severed foot inside. Soon they see dozens more feet, all in identical shoes, bobbing toward the beach. Police and FBI ultimately count more than a hundred of them washing up on Sanibel and Captiva Islands' tranquil shores. Pendergast teams up with the junior Special Agent Armstrong Coldmoon to investigate this strange phenomenon. Oceanographers use a supercomputer to analyze Gulf currents and attempt to determine where the feet entered the ocean. Were they dumped off a ship or an island? Does each one represent a homicide? Analysts examine chemical residues and pollen, even the angle of each foot’s amputation, but the puzzle defies all explanation. Attention focuses on Cuba, where “something terrible was happening” in front of a coastal prison, and on China, the apparent source of the shoes. The clever plot is “a most baffling case indeed” for the brilliant Pendergast, but it’s the type of problem he thrives on. He’s hardly a stereotypical FBI agent, given for example his lemon-colored silk suit, his Panama hat, and his legendary insistence on working alone—until now. Pendergast rarely blinks—perhaps, someone surmises, he’s part reptile. But equally odd is Constance Greene, his “extraordinarily beautiful,” smart, and sarcastic young “ward” who has “eyes that had seen everything and, as a result, were surprised by nothing.” Coldmoon is more down to earth: part Lakota, part Italian, and “every inch a Fed.” Add in murderous drug dealers, an intrepid newspaper reporter, coyotes crossing the U.S.–Mexico border, and a pissed-off wannabe graphic novelist, and you have a thoroughly entertaining cast of characters. There is plenty of suspense, and the action gets bloody.

Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4725-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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