Storytelling pro Wolf knows how to ratchet up tension and sustain it until the end.

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THE INTERCEPT

Moving from homicides and sex crimes to Islamic terrorism in his first novel, Law & Order creator Wolf introduces NYPD intelligence officer Jeremy Fisk, who must unravel a tricky bombing plot cooked up by Osama bin Laden before his death.

Fisk, who speaks Arabic and honed his anti-terrorism skills in the Middle East and Europe, works for a post-9/11 agency that functions like a mini-CIA within the police department. He is routinely at odds with the FBI, who in 2009 let an armed Afghan terrorist they were tracking disappear in Manhattan instead of taking him down right away (a sniper's bullet closed the argument). Two years later, a few days before a Fourth of July gala at the new Freedom Tower building at ground zero, five airline passengers and a female flight attendant overcome what appears to be a lone terrorist aiming to crash their plane in New York. Fisk determines the bomber actually acted as a decoy for a Saudi nationalist on the plane who goes missing. A timid American woman who converted to Islam is involved in the lethal scheme, as is a baddie hiding in plain sight. Like Law & Order, this book unfolds crisply and intelligently, with a nice mixture of suspense and social observation. Wolf has fun satirizing the celebrity trappings that greet "The Six," as the five Americans and handsome Swede who thwarted the hijacking are known. Even as they are trotted out for the media as heroes (Matt Lauer interviews them on Today), they are denied their freedom. Wolf has a tendency to telescope the investigative process—Fisk's conclusions come in sudden flurries—and Fisk's budding romance with fourth-generation cop Krina Gersten is undercooked. But Wolf otherwise does a shrewd job of setting the stage for his protagonist's next appearance.

Storytelling pro Wolf knows how to ratchet up tension and sustain it until the end.

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-206483-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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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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Now that Coben’s added politics to his heady brew, expect sex and religion to join the mix.

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THE BOY FROM THE WOODS

Coben’s latest darkest-suburbs thriller sets a decidedly offbeat detective on the trail of a crime with overtones unmistakably redolent of once and future presidential elections.

Wilde is called Wilde because nobody’s known his real name from the moment a pair of hikers found him foraging for himself in Ramapo Mountain State Forest 24 years ago. Now over 40, he’s had experience as both a lost boy and a private investigator. That makes him an obvious person to help when his godson, Sweet Water High School student Matthew Crimstein, expresses concern to his grandmother, attorney Hester Crimstein, that his bullied classmate Naomi Pine has gone missing. Matthew doesn’t really want anyone to help. He doesn’t even want anyone to notice his agitation. But Hester, taking the time from her criminal defense of financial consultant Simon Greene (Run Away, 2019) to worm the details out of him, asks Wilde to lend a hand, and sure enough, Wilde, unearthing an unsavory backstory that links Naomi to bullying classmate Crash Maynard, whose TV producer father, Dash Maynard, is close friends with reality TV star–turned–presidential hopeful Rusty Eggers, finds Naomi hale and hearty. Everything’s hunky-dory for one week, and then she disappears again. And this time, so does Crash after a brief visit to Matthew in which he tearfully confesses his guilt about the bad stuff he did to Naomi. This second disappearance veers into more obviously criminal territory with the arrival of a ransom note that demands, not money, but the allegedly incriminating videotapes of Rusty Eggers that Dash and Delia Maynard have had squirreled away for 30 years. The tapes link Rusty to a forgotten and forgettable homicide and add a paranoid new ripped-from-the-headlines dimension to the author’s formidable range. Readers who can tune out all the subplots will find the kidnappers easy to spot, but Coben finds room for three climactic surprises, one of them a honey.

Now that Coben’s added politics to his heady brew, expect sex and religion to join the mix.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4814-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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