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WHITE FIRE

Jaded crime fiction buffs might find the premise hyperbolic, but beneath the overwrought headlines, Pendergast solves...

Preston and Child (Two Graves, 2012, etc.) bring back FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast, expert in the psychology of serial killers and other criminal deviants.  

Pendergast is independently wealthy, and despite his cold, logical nature, he possesses a certain compassion, explaining his support of the once-troubled, youthful Corrie Swanson as she navigates the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Corrie needs a thesis to please a chauvinist professor. She finds it after discovering a story told by Oscar Wilde to Arthur Conan Doyle at a literary dinner. The tale related to no crime but rather, the 1876 killing of miners in Roaring Fork, Colo., by a grizzly bear. Her thesis: a study of perimortem trauma on human bones. The problem: Roaring Fork is now a ski resort of "oppressive wealth, entitlement, and smugness"—think Aspen—and the powers that be, land-developing descendants of silver barons who raped the mountains, deny her access to the bodies, recently exhumed because of a new construction project. Pendergast leverages permission, and Swanson begins her study, only to discover the miners were killed—and cannibalized—by humans. Shocking, certainly, but something else wicked her way comes: A modern-day fiend is murdering moneyed Roaring Fork residents and incinerating their bodies by burning down their mansions. Pendergast remains one of crime fiction’s memorable protagonists—pale, silvery of eye, inscrutable of mien, always black-clad—and it’s he who discovers the old deaths bear witness to the new. The authors provide a reasonable supporting cast, including a rich-boy ski bum–now–town librarian; an overwhelmed sheriff who grows into his job; Roger Kleefisch, a Baker Street Irregular, who assists Pendergast in uncovering lost Conan Doyle esoterica; and Capt. Stacy Bowdree, lone descendant of one of the dead miners. 

Jaded crime fiction buffs might find the premise hyperbolic, but beneath the overwrought headlines, Pendergast solves captivating mysteries.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4555-2583-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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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

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
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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...

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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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