Nothing new here, but Brown keeps the parade of obligatory red herrings moving along smartly until his hero finds just the...



A summons to Suffolk in search of a stolen painting turns into something considerably darker for thriller writer/detective Donald Langham.

As Neston Manor, Lord Teddy Elsmere’s mortgaged estate, crumbles around him in the winter of 1956, he still prides himself on a few choice possessions. So he’s not best pleased when one of them, Gainsborough’s Suffolk Pastoral, goes missing. It’s particularly awkward that there’s no evidence of a break-in and that the frame has vanished along with the painting—two hints to local DI Montgomery that Elsmere may have spirited away his own prize for the insurance. Of course he hasn’t, huffs the widowed aristocrat. But he’s even unhappier to think that the thief might be one of his tenants or guests: his son and heir, Dudley Mariner; Dudley’s strapping fiancee, sculptress Esmeralda Bellamy; aspiring author Rebecca Miles; Patrick Verlinden, a Dutch flier who served with the RAF in the war; or longtime resident Maj. William Rutherford, whose financial situation is even more dire than his host’s. Brought down to Neston by his literary agent and Elsmere’s friend, Charles Elder, Langham settles in for several soothing rounds of Q-and-A with all the suspects except Verlinden, who’s disappeared. He’s as surprised as anyone when a chance discovery he makes among Verlinden’s effects leads him to the missing painting and when the missing man turns up as dead as Gainsborough. Verlinden’s murder provides the cue for Langham’s increasingly pointed questions to begin excavating the secrets, motives, and clues Brown (Murder Takes a Turn, 2018, etc.) has distributed generously throughout the household and the nearby village. Some of these are relevant, some aren’t, but they’re all more or less equally interesting until the very last one, which reveals unsuspected depths at Neston Manor.

Nothing new here, but Brown keeps the parade of obligatory red herrings moving along smartly until his hero finds just the cottage he and his wife have been looking for in a neighboring Suffolk village. Whew.

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7278-8852-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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

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Patterson's thrillers (Virgin, 1980; Black Market, 1986) have plummeted in quality since his promising debut in The Thomas Berryman Number (1976)—with this latest being the sorriest yet: a clanky and witless policer about a criminal mastermind and the cop sworn to take him down. Aside from watching sympathetic homicide dick John ("Stef") Stefanovich comeing to terms with a wheelchair-bound life—legacy of a shotgun blast to the back by drug-and-gun-running archfiend Alexandre St.-Germain—the major interest here lies in marvelling at the author's trashing of fiction convention. The whopper comes early: although St.-Germain is explicity described as being machine-gunned to death by three vigilante cops in a swank brothel (". . .a submachine gun blast nearly ripped off the head of Alexandre St.-Germain"; "The mobster's head and most of his neck had been savaged by the machine-gun volley. The body looked desecrated. . ."), before you know it this latter-day Moriarty is stepping unscathed out of an airplane. What gives? Authorial cheating, that's what—thinly glossed over with some mumbling later on about a "body double." Not that St.-Germain's ersatz death generated much suspense anyway, with subsequent action focusing on, among other items, the gory killings of assorted mob bosses by one of the vigilante cops, and Stef's viewing of pornographic tapes confiscated from that brothel. But readers generous enough to plod on will get to read about the newly Lazarus-ized St.-Germain's crass efforts to revitalize and consolidate the world's crime syndicates ("the Midnight Club"), Stef's predictable tumble for a sexy true-crime writer, and how (isn't one miracle enough for Patterson?) at book's end Stef walks again and gets to embrace a rogue cop who's murdered several people. Ironsides with a badge and a lobotomy.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 1988

ISBN: 0446676411

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1988

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