This kickoff to a planned new series could have used a little more planning in character introduction and development. While...

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CONFESSIONS OF A RED HERRING

Accused of murder by her PR firm, an ex-reporter must fight what’s either the worst luck ever or an unseen enemy to uncover the real villain.

You’d think that being asked to sleep with a client for the sake of public relations would be the worst thing that could happen at Alexandra Vlodnachek’s job with Coleman & Walters. Nope; not even close. Things happen fast after Alex tells Everett P. Coleman exactly what she won’t do at work. Coleman is killed, and the police question Alex, who points out that although her boss was out of line, she was more likely to file a complaint with HR than stab him to death. Alex returns to the office after her questioning to find a whole new world, in which the entire office, starting with Mrs. Everett P. Coleman, holds Alex responsible for Everett’s death. Alex is summarily fired and accused of using her PR job as a pretext for writing an exposé, since she used to be a reporter. When she arrives home seeking a respite, Alex finds that her brother, Nick, has shown up to stay with her with his bride, the apparent grifter Gabby, at his side. It’s hard to know what trouble Alex needs to tackle first—clearing her name or clearing out her house—but things go from bad to worse when a bounced check makes it clear that someone thinks Alex’s week hasn’t been hellacious enough. With the support of her longtime best friend, Trip, and Alex’s grandmother Baba, along with the sometimes-hindering help of Nick and Gabby, Alex sets out to clear her name by finding out who had reason to kill Coleman.

This kickoff to a planned new series could have used a little more planning in character introduction and development. While everyone is interesting, there’s a little too much of everything, making it hard to follow along and buy into the heroine’s dizzy world.

Pub Date: May 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4967-1656-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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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 MIDNIGHT CLUB

Patterson's thrillers (Virgin, 1980; Black Market, 1986) have plummeted in quality since his promising debut in The Thomas Berryman Number (1976)—with this latest being the sorriest yet: a clanky and witless policer about a criminal mastermind and the cop sworn to take him down. Aside from watching sympathetic homicide dick John ("Stef") Stefanovich comeing to terms with a wheelchair-bound life—legacy of a shotgun blast to the back by drug-and-gun-running archfiend Alexandre St.-Germain—the major interest here lies in marvelling at the author's trashing of fiction convention. The whopper comes early: although St.-Germain is explicity described as being machine-gunned to death by three vigilante cops in a swank brothel (". . .a submachine gun blast nearly ripped off the head of Alexandre St.-Germain"; "The mobster's head and most of his neck had been savaged by the machine-gun volley. The body looked desecrated. . ."), before you know it this latter-day Moriarty is stepping unscathed out of an airplane. What gives? Authorial cheating, that's what—thinly glossed over with some mumbling later on about a "body double." Not that St.-Germain's ersatz death generated much suspense anyway, with subsequent action focusing on, among other items, the gory killings of assorted mob bosses by one of the vigilante cops, and Stef's viewing of pornographic tapes confiscated from that brothel. But readers generous enough to plod on will get to read about the newly Lazarus-ized St.-Germain's crass efforts to revitalize and consolidate the world's crime syndicates ("the Midnight Club"), Stef's predictable tumble for a sexy true-crime writer, and how (isn't one miracle enough for Patterson?) at book's end Stef walks again and gets to embrace a rogue cop who's murdered several people. Ironsides with a badge and a lobotomy.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 1988

ISBN: 0446676411

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1988

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