Although a promising writer, Winslow introduces so many voices, plotlines and characters that readers may need a cheat sheet...

THE START OF EVERYTHING

The discovery of the body of a young woman sets a strange chain of events in motion in Winslow’s second thriller set in Britain (The Whole World, 2010).

Police Inspector Chloe Frohmann and her partner, Morris Keene, are assigned to investigate how an unidentified young woman ended up in a marshy area in the English countryside. Morris has been out on medical leave inspired by an injury he received when completing a solo interview. Chloe knows her fellow officers hold her responsible for his injuries since she didn’t accompany her partner to the scene, and she believes they resent her recent promotion to detective inspector. She’s also in a difficult position with her boss, who has requested that Chloe appraise him on whether Morris is fit for the job. Meanwhile, a very disturbed young woman named Mathilde Oliver is trying to find a student named Katja. The daughter of Cambridge mathematics professor Tobias Oliver, Mathilde tracks down the identities of students and campus personnel when mail is received that cannot be delivered to them. While looking for Katja, Mathilde finds herself in the middle of something she didn’t expect, leaving her to fend for herself in this odd and often confusing story. The book is told in turn by different characters. The author weaves back and forth between the past and future, connecting both the body in the marsh and Mathilde’s quest and eventual fate, while the investigation hiccups along. Each character’s unique point of view impacts the case, but the technique sometimes makes the story difficult to follow. Winslow writes interesting, evocative fiction, although her American roots shine through, and the characters sound more like cast members on an episode of Law & Order than the Brits they are supposed to be. If the book has one central flaw, it’s that the characters are uniformly difficult to like, particularly the female police officer Chloe, and their actions don’t always make sense in the context of the plot.

Although a promising writer, Winslow introduces so many voices, plotlines and characters that readers may need a cheat sheet in order to keep track of the action.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-385-34290-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

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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Reading anything by Slaughter is like riding a particularly scary amusement park ride. Reading this one is like booking a...

PIECES OF HER

A plain-Jane daughter’s 31st birthday celebration explodes into a nightmare within a nightmare in Slaughter’s latest stand-alone.

Andrea Oliver’s always felt inferior to her parents. Her father, Gordon Oliver, is a trusts and estates attorney; her mother, Dr. Laura Oliver, is a speech therapist. Andy herself has never aspired to any career goal higher than serving as an assistant to someone important. Even when she left Belle Isle, Georgia, for the Big Apple, she got nowhere, and she was only too eager to return home when her mother announced three years ago that she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer. As the two women mark Andy’s birthday by sharing lunch in a mall cafe, a crazed shooter opens fire on a mother-and-daughter pair who’ve stopped to greet Laura, and Andy’s life changes in an instant. Or rather two instants, the first when the shots ring out and the second when Laura, after inviting the killer to shoot her next, coolly and dispassionately dispatches him. It takes the dazed Andy hours to realize that her mother’s not at all who she seems to be, and by the time she’s ready to accept the fact that Laura Oliver is a woman with a past, that past is already racing to catch up with both mother and daughter. Cutting back and forth between Andy’s harrowing flight to nowhere after Laura pushes her out of her home and a backstory 30 years earlier involving the Army of the Changing World, a cell of amateur terrorists determined to strike a mortal blow against greedy capitalists and, it eventually turns out, each other as well, Slaughter (The Good Daughter, 2017, etc.) never abates her trademark intensity, and fans will feel that the story is pumping adrenalin directly into their bloodstreams. Long before the end, though, the impostures, secret identities, hidden motives, and double-crosses will have piled up past the point of no return, leaving the tale to run on adrenalin alone.

Reading anything by Slaughter is like riding a particularly scary amusement park ride. Reading this one is like booking a season ticket on a ride that never lets you off.

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-243027-4

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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