A character-driven tale of troubled relationships in a rapidly changing 1960s England that’s wrapped in an excellent mystery.


In the 1960s, a famous magician returns to England for a funeral after a hiatus of 11 years.

In that time, Max Mephisto moved to the U.S., married movie star Lydia Lamont, and fathered two children. His British daughter, TV star of Ruby Magic, the product of an ancient affair, has a love/hate relationship with Max, who was absent most of her life. At the funeral for an old theatrical buddy, Max sees many friends, including Superintendent Edgar Stephens, a mate since their World War II service together, with whom he solved the murder of a woman he adored (The Vanishing Box, 2018). After the funeral, Edgar’s boss, DI Bob Willis, gets a call about a missing girl that plunges them into a difficult case tailor-made for Emma Holmes Stephens, a top policewoman before her marriage to Edgar. Although she loves her family, Emma finds life boring without the mental stimulation of police work. The vanished girl, Rhonda Miles, who comes from a wealthy family, is a student at Roedean, Emma’s alma mater. She left a note saying she was going to London, perhaps in the hope of meeting American movie star Bobby Hambro, who’s in England working on a film deal which may soon involve Max. Rhonda’s father insists she’s been kidnapped, something that’s happened before. But the view of the case changes when a reporter friend of Emma’s informs her that Sara Henratty and Louise Dawkins, two other women, both disappeared after leaving similar notes. Ambitious WPC Meg Connolly, sent to London in disguise, learns from Bobby’s fans that Rhonda had been approached by a photographer who suggested that she do some modeling. The link between the disappearances is confirmed by the body of Sara Henratty wearing Rhonda’s cloak and the discovery that they had all been asked to model. When Max's daughter Ruby also vanishes, Max and Emma resolve to find her while reflecting on their unsatisfactory lives.

A character-driven tale of troubled relationships in a rapidly changing 1960s England that’s wrapped in an excellent mystery.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-97159-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?


After a flight in fantasy with When the Wind Blows (1998), Patterson goes to ground with another slash-and-squirm psychokiller page-turner, this one dedicated to “the millions of Alex Cross readers, who so frequently ask, can’t you write faster?” By day, Geoffrey Shafer is a charming, 42-year-old British Embassy paper-pusher with a picture-perfect family and a shady past as an MI-6 secret agent. Come sundown, he swallows a pharmacy of psychoactive pills, gulps three black coffees loaded with sugar, and roams the streets of Washington, D.C., in a battered cab, where, disguised as a black man, he rolls dice to determine which among his black female fares he—ll murder. Afterwards he dumps his naked victims in crime-infested back alleys of black- slum neighborhoods, then sends e-mails boasting of his accomplishments to three other former MI-6 agents involved in a hellish Internet role-playing game. “I sensed I was at the start of another homicide mess,” sighs forensic-psychologist turned homicide-detective Alex Cross. Cross yearns to catch the “Jane Doe murderer” but is thwarted by Det. Chief George Pittman, who assigns sexy Det. Patsy Hampton to investigate Cross and come up with a reason for dismissing him. Meanwhile, Cross’s fiancÇe is kidnaped during a Bermuda vacation, and an anonymous e-mail warns him to back off. He doesn’t, of course, and just when it appears that Patterson is sleep-walking through his story, Cross nabs Shafer minutes after Shafer kills Det. Hampton. During the subsequent high-visibility trail, Shafer manages to make the jury believe that he’s innocent and that Cross was trying to frame him. When all seems lost, a sympathetic British intelligence chief offers to help Cross bring down Shafer, and the other homicidal game-players, during a showdown on the breezy beaches of Jamaica. Kinky mayhem, a cartoonish villain, regular glimpses of the kindly Cross caring for his loved ones, and an ending that spells a sequel: Patterson’s fans couldn’t ask for more.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-69328-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1999

Did you like this book?