A vet with investigative chops and his loyal coonhound make an appealing duo in this origin story.



In this debut thriller, a fire destroys the research wing of a rural upstate New York cosmetic corporation’s headquarters, casting suspicion on the animal rights activists who recently protested at the company.

Kent Stephenson’s older brother, Merrill, Jefferson’s chief of police, enforces the law, and their misfit half brother, Maylon (nicknamed May-May), has been known to break it. Kent, a small-town veterinarian always in the company of his coonhound, Lucinda, focuses on doing the right thing, especially when it comes to animals. Kent once had romantic feelings toward Stef Copithorn, CEO of the cosmetic company that’s crucial to the local economy. Aubrey Fairbanks, field representative for the Hollywood-based Freedom of Animals Movement, is in town organizing a protest against animal testing conducted by Stef’s company. Kent’s attraction to gorgeous Aubrey is a professional, not personal, concern to the now openly gay Stef. The two women disagree vehemently about the humaneness of animal welfare codes. When a blaze obliterates the cosmetic company’s research wing, suspicion falls on FOAM, and Kent feels duped—at least for a time—by Aubrey, with whom he’s begun a relationship. During Kent’s visit with his wheelchair-bound mother, June Stephenson Mays, the two discuss the fire and also the supposed suicide of a well-known local journalist. June does not believe the man—her dear friend—killed himself; she says it had to be murder, and Kent vows to find out if she’s right. He also questions her about his jailbird half brother’s recent activities and ponders their legitimacy. Kent finds more to investigate when a family member is apparently murdered. In addition, dogs in the town, disappearing occasionally at first, start to vanish in record numbers. Can Lucinda remain unscathed? Martorana produces a compelling story starring an engaging hero. The author also introduces notable characters like June, with her “matchstick legs,” “kittenish white hair,” and no-nonsense attitude. At one point, she tells Kent that May-May’s “got his father’s wickedness.” Descriptions are strong, such as the account of how police cars are clustered at a crime scene: “The lot was jammed with official vehicles parked at all angles, the way cops like to do.” Both sides of the animal rights controversy are well-presented. But the depictions of abused animals could be upsetting to some readers.

A vet with investigative chops and his loyal coonhound make an appealing duo in this origin story.

Pub Date: March 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9989326-0-6

Page Count: 282

Publisher: VinChaRo Ventures LLC

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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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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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

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