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THE OBSIDIAN CHAMBER

Action-adventure with a macabre, sometimes-fantastical flair.

Aloysius Pendergast, an enormously wealthy FBI special agent with a go-it-alone, 007–like brief, is presumed dead at sea after helping a Massachusetts friend. Gloom prevails at his fabulous mansion on New York City’s Riverside Drive.

Preston and Child (Crimson Shore, 2015, etc.) find Pendergast’s factotum extraordinaire, Proctor, keeping a stiff upper lip. Pendergast’s beautiful ward, Constance Greene, is doubly depressed: her mentor’s apparent death was preceded by his rejection of her declaration of love. Then Proctor believes he sees Constance being kidnapped. There are clues, and Proctor’s emergency go-bag contains a major stash of cash, so he charters jets and pursues the kidnappers to Namibia. There, the bad guys hack his SUV's computer, stranding him in the desolation of the Kalahari Desert. As this transpires, Pendergast is being held captive at sea after being rescued by a drug runner’s fishing boat. The crew decides to ransom their wily prisoner; he objects and sends the craft and crew to the bottom. Meanwhile, Proctor's protection lured away, Constance is approached by Pendergast’s murderous brother, Diogenes, also presumed dead (volcano, not ocean). Declaring his own rehabilitation and undying true love, Diogenes takes a reluctant Constance to a paradise refuge on Florida’s Halcyon Key. Returning to New York, Pendergast finds the mansion empty, gathers clues, and begins pursuit. Once again the plot further pushes probability’s limits while keeping the excitement meter pegged. Those new to the Pendergast world may stumble over references to the Gsalrig Chongg monastery (refuge of Constance’s son by Diogenes) and the machinations of Pendergast ancestor Enoch Leng, inventor of an immortality potion made from "cauda equina—the bundle of nerves at the base of the spine," which must be harvested from the newly dead. Dialogue sometimes arrives as staged pronouncements, and there’s occasional overwriting—"his features slowly twisting into a horrible grimace of mirth"—but the fast-paced novel speeds over such potholes.

Action-adventure with a macabre, sometimes-fantastical flair.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4555-3691-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Awards & Accolades

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • New York Times Bestseller

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PRETTY GIRLS

Slaughter (Cop Town, 2014, etc.) is so uncompromising in following her blood trails to the darkest places imaginable that...

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • New York Times Bestseller

Twenty-four years after a traumatic disappearance tore a Georgia family apart, Slaughter’s scorching stand-alone picks them up and shreds them all over again.

The Carrolls have never been the same since 19-year-old Julia vanished. After years of fruitlessly pestering the police, her veterinarian father, Sam, killed himself; her librarian mother, Helen, still keeps the girl's bedroom untouched, just in case. Julia’s sisters have been equally scarred. Lydia Delgado has sold herself for drugs countless times, though she’s been clean for years now; Claire Scott has just been paroled after knee-capping her tennis partner for a thoughtless remark. The evening that Claire’s ankle bracelet comes off, her architect husband, Paul, is callously murdered before her eyes and, without a moment's letup, she stumbles on a mountainous cache of snuff porn. Paul’s business partner, Adam Quinn, demands information from Claire and threatens her with dire consequences if she doesn’t deliver. The Dunwoody police prove as ineffectual as ever. FBI agent Fred Nolan is more suavely menacing than helpful. So Lydia and Claire, who’ve grown so far apart that they’re virtual strangers, are unwillingly thrown back on each other for help. Once she’s plunged you into this maelstrom, Slaughter shreds your own nerves along with those of the sisters, not simply by a parade of gruesome revelations—though she supplies them in abundance—but by peeling back layer after layer from beloved family members Claire and Lydia thought they knew. The results are harrowing.

Slaughter (Cop Town, 2014, etc.) is so uncompromising in following her blood trails to the darkest places imaginable that she makes most of her high-wire competition look pallid, formulaic, or just plain fake.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-242905-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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