Pendergast—an always-black-clad pale blond polymath, gaunt yet physically deadly, an FBI agent operating without supervision...

TWO GRAVES

Preston and Child’s (Cold Vengeance, 2011, etc.) thriller completes the Helen trilogy featuring the weird and unworldly Aloysius Pendergast, special agent for the FBI.

The conclusion opens with Pendergast called to meet Helen, the wife he presumed dead, in New York City’s Central Park. There’s a touching, tentative reunion, and then Der Bund strikes again, kidnapping Helen and leaving Pendergast wounded. Pendergast offers a treatise on detection perfection, tracing Helen from hither and yon to Sonora, Mexico. There’s another shootout. Helen’s killed, and principal bad guy, Wulf Konrad Fischer, escapes. Pendergast retreats to his Dakota apartment in New York City and into a grief-and-guilt-driven drug addiction. Friends intervene. Lt. D’Agosta, city police detective, pleads for Pendergast to help search for a serial killer. Corrie Swanson, criminal justice student, is in danger after stumbling on a Nazi safe house in her quest to help Pendergast. With Pendergast’s aid, Corrie takes refuge with her estranged father, only to find him framed for a bank robbery. Psychiatrist Dr. John Felder discovers the institutionalized Constance Greene may truly be a century and a half old. Pendergast, intrigued by the bizarre serial murders, applies DNA analysis, which leads him to think the murderer is his brother Diogenes, a villain supposedly dead in a Sicilian volcano. Further analysis reveals truths even more grotesque. The most simplistic of the narratives follows Corrie clearing her father; the most gothic follows Felder seeking proof of Greene’s age; and the most violent follows Pendergast as he uncovers secrets about Helen and then takes revenge by breaching a Nazi refuge in Brazil. Pendergast’s narrative offers angst and ample bloodletting in gothic locales and confrontations with the issue of Mengele’s twins experiments mated with quantum mechanics and genetic manipulation. If Preston and Child fans haven’t read the first two volumes in the Helen trilogy, confusion will reign.

Pendergast—an always-black-clad pale blond polymath, gaunt yet physically deadly, an FBI agent operating without supervision or reprimand—lurks at the dark, sharp edge of crime fiction protagonists.

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-446-55499-2

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

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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Greed, love, and extrasensory abilities combine in two middling mysteries.

LABYRINTH

Coulter’s treasured FBI agents take on two cases marked by danger and personal involvement.

Dillon Savitch and his wife, Lacey Sherlock, have special abilities that have served them well in law enforcement (Paradox, 2018, etc.). But that doesn't prevent Sherlock’s car from hitting a running man after having been struck by a speeding SUV that runs a red light. The runner, though clearly injured, continues on his way and disappears. Not so the SUV driver, a security engineer for the Bexholt Group, which has ties to government agencies. Sherlock’s own concussion causes memory loss so severe that she doesn’t recognize Savitch or remember their son, Sean. The whole incident seems more suspicious when a blood test from the splatter of the man Sherlock hit reveals that he’s Justice Cummings, an analyst for the CIA. The agency’s refusal to cooperate makes Savitch certain that Bexholt is involved in a deep-laid plot. Meanwhile, Special Agent Griffin Hammersmith is visiting friends who run a cafe in the touristy Virginia town of Gaffers Ridge. Hammersmith, who has psychic abilities, is taken aback when he hears in his mind a woman’s cry for help. Reporter Carson DeSilva, who came to the area to interview a Nobel Prize winner, also has psychic abilities, and she overhears the thoughts of Rafer Bodine, a young man who has apparently kidnapped and possibly murdered three teenage girls. Unluckily, she blurts out her thoughts, and she’s snatched and tied up in a cellar by Bodine. Bodine may be a killer, but he’s also the nephew of the sheriff and the son of the local bigwig. So the sheriff arrests Hammersmith and refuses to accept his FBI credentials. Bodine's mother has psychic powers strong enough to kill, but she meets her match in Hammersmith, DeSilva, Savitch, and Sherlock.

Greed, love, and extrasensory abilities combine in two middling mysteries.

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-9365-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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