Preston and Child keep an eye out for the legendary and introduce Cyclops, mystical humanoid, to stretch the boundaries...

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THE LOST ISLAND

Preston and Child (Gideon’s Sword, 2011, etc.) sail Gideon Crew into his third adventure for Effective Engineering Solutions, a "company specializing in failure analysis" that's the brainchild of Eli Glinn, a banged-up ex-military genius who pilots his enterprise from a power wheelchair.

EES assigns Crew a simple Caribbean jaunt to find an exotic plant with near-magical healing powers. But first, he'll need to sneak into the Morgan Library in New York and steal part of Ireland’s priceless Book of Kells because the Phorkys Map, an ancient Greek text that points the way to the coveted plant, is on the reverse side. In spite of Swiss bank–level security, Crew’s now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t Kells caper takes no more time than he’ll need to sink a ship full of treasure-hunting Caribbean pirates. Thinking Crew knows the location of billions in bullion, the bad guys stumble upon him and his EES-assigned partner, Amy, a techno-type with Ph.D.s in classical languages and sociology. No meet-cute romance here for Crew and Amy; it’s eyes only on the map left by Odysseus, he of the legendary voyage. The authors crank up their descriptive powers when the pair meet Miskito Indians and then canoe offshore to search for the "lotus"—the healing plant—on deserted volcanic islands. Deserted because the census overlooked the last surviving Cyclops, "something out of a B movie, a huge muscled Neanderthal" who's "nine feet tall, with a massive head on a thickly muscled neck" and "a single glossy eye the size of a plate." The characters are static. The plot is breakneck violent. Geekery is prevalent, with Glinn employing QBA—supercomputer quantitative behavioral analysis, combining history, sociology and statistics which "can predict, to a certain extent, human behavior"—which works well except for the unforeseen murder and mayhem, betrayal and suicide.

Preston and Child keep an eye out for the legendary and introduce Cyclops, mystical humanoid, to stretch the boundaries of the action-adventure novel.

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4555-2577-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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