Copperman, who as Jeff Cohen has written nonfiction (The Asperger Parent, 2002, etc.), tackles a challenging task:...

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THE QUESTION OF THE MISSING HEAD

Copperman/Cohen introduce a detective who brings something extra to his investigations: Asperger’s syndrome.

Before it was dropped from the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Asperger’s was an increasingly popular diagnosis given to people displaying a constellation of behaviors often associated with autism—inflexible thinking, reduced ability to read social cues, constricted range of interest—but whose cognitive and linguistic functioning are generally better than those of autistic folks. So it’s hardly surprising to see a new series whose investigator has Asperger’s—though Samuel Hoenig would be first to insist that his condition is not an affliction; it’s a difference rather than a defect. Samuel was diagnosed at 16 under the old DSM IV, and he wears his Asperger’s as a badge of honor. He constantly marvels at his ability to understand others while maintaining his own idiosyncratic take on the world. And the person he understands the best, other than his beloved mother, is Janet Washburn, a would-be client of Samuel’s question-answering service in Piscataway, New Jersey, called, with typical Asperger logic, Questions Answered. Ms. Washburn, as Samuel prefers to call her, soon proves herself invaluable, smoothing Samuel’s path with other clients, including Marshall Ackerman, chief administrator at Garden State Cryonics Institute. Ackerman wants Samuel to find a misplaced, cryogenically preserved body part, which Samuel agrees to do as soon as Ackerman rephrases his request as a question: “Who stole one of our heads?” The discovery of a body in the cryonic storage chamber—not one of GSCI’s clients, but a staff member—ups the ante, posing a question Samuel may not be equipped to answer.

Copperman, who as Jeff Cohen has written nonfiction (The Asperger Parent, 2002, etc.), tackles a challenging task: presenting the inner life of someone whose inner life is by nature opaque to others. His focus seriously limits Samuel’s power as an effective sleuth rather than a poster-boy for early intervention.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7387-4151-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Midnight Ink/Llewellyn

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

CROOKED RIVER

FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast finds evil afoot in his latest action-filled adventure (Verses for the Dead, 2018, etc.).

Imagine Florida beachcombers’ shock when they discover a shoe with a severed foot inside. Soon they see dozens more feet, all in identical shoes, bobbing toward the beach. Police and FBI ultimately count more than a hundred of them washing up on Sanibel and Captiva Islands' tranquil shores. Pendergast teams up with the junior Special Agent Armstrong Coldmoon to investigate this strange phenomenon. Oceanographers use a supercomputer to analyze Gulf currents and attempt to determine where the feet entered the ocean. Were they dumped off a ship or an island? Does each one represent a homicide? Analysts examine chemical residues and pollen, even the angle of each foot’s amputation, but the puzzle defies all explanation. Attention focuses on Cuba, where “something terrible was happening” in front of a coastal prison, and on China, the apparent source of the shoes. The clever plot is “a most baffling case indeed” for the brilliant Pendergast, but it’s the type of problem he thrives on. He’s hardly a stereotypical FBI agent, given for example his lemon-colored silk suit, his Panama hat, and his legendary insistence on working alone—until now. Pendergast rarely blinks—perhaps, someone surmises, he’s part reptile. But equally odd is Constance Greene, his “extraordinarily beautiful,” smart, and sarcastic young “ward” who has “eyes that had seen everything and, as a result, were surprised by nothing.” Coldmoon is more down to earth: part Lakota, part Italian, and “every inch a Fed.” Add in murderous drug dealers, an intrepid newspaper reporter, coyotes crossing the U.S.–Mexico border, and a pissed-off wannabe graphic novelist, and you have a thoroughly entertaining cast of characters. There is plenty of suspense, and the action gets bloody.

Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4725-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Professionally entertaining, with lots of realistically frustrating false hopes—though it’s hard to worry very much about...

NEON PREY

Lucas Davenport goes west.

But first he goes south, called from his home in Minnesota to the Louisiana swamp where hired killer Clayton Deese buried at least five people (the total is actually higher) before coming a cropper seven months ago with his latest target, Howell Paine. Things went sideways, sending Paine to the hospital and sentencing Deese to an ankle monitor he sliced through three days ago. Local FBI agent Sandro Tremanty, discovering Deese’s absence, wants help from the U.S. marshals in rounding up his quarry so that he can implicate loan shark Roger Smith, who’d hired him to hurt Paine and send a warning to his other debtors. And there’s another reason the feds would like to get Deese off the streets: His experiments in homicide have given him a taste for human flesh. Soon enough, Lucas, together with marshals Rae Givens and Bob Matees, has picked up Deese’s trail, which leads first to Marina Del Rey, where he’s joined his half brother, Marion Beauchamps, and Jayden Nast, “a guy with guns, who hates cops,” in a brutal home-invasion crew. Conscientious detective work brings Lucas and the LAPD within a whisker of catching Deese, but he slips away from them and heads to Las Vegas with Genesis Cox, the blonde he’s picked up, and John Rogers Cole, another accomplice. Deese and his cohort must constantly pull new jobs to support their gambling and drug habits, and it’s hard to imagine their eluding the law for very long. But there are deeper threats to their racket. Roger Smith, who knows plenty about Deese, realizes he has every reason to get rid of him, and there turns out to be no honor among the thieves closer to home either.

Professionally entertaining, with lots of realistically frustrating false hopes—though it’s hard to worry very much about the leading question here: Will the franchise hero (Twisted Prey, 2018, etc.) succeed in bringing the crooks to justice before they wipe each other off the face of the Earth?

Pub Date: April 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53658-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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