Lock and the mystery have little impact, but they’re surrounded by colorful characters and regaling tales.




In Baum’s (Point and Shoot, 2006) latest thriller, private eye and bodyguard Lock Tourmaline returns to solve the murder of a client’s brother, killed in prison.

When inmate Jason Heung’s burned body turns up in a prison dumpster, Lock agrees to find the person(s) responsible. After all, he heads the security detail for Jason’s sister, Susan, whose fiance, Henry Cho, is Lock’s old cop buddy. Notorious criminal Cousin Bodacious is the immediate suspect since, it seems, Jason was informing on him to the police. But others, like Bodacious’ employee Len LeFontant, suggest that Susan is behind the murder, and for the same reason. Her brother would have buckets of dirt if the speculation of the Heung family’s ties to drug distribution were true. Lock’s PI skills help with his investigation, but it’ll take much more to protect himself and loved ones from Bodacious’ cronies and Kim Jaegyu, a suspicious Korean also looking into Jason’s death. But Lock, a practitioner of Shaolin Kempo karate—which derives techniques from other styles such as traditional karate and jujitsu—and other martial arts, is most certainly capable. Mixing mystery and thriller, the plot has shades of drama, romance for Lock, and humor mostly from Len, so over-the-top offensive that it’s comical. Lock’s trying to wrangle homemade porn DVDs—starring his ex-wife Lori—from Len is its own subplot. Lock is all over the place, both professionally (detective, former cop, bodyguard, martial arts instructor) and personally (a widower with a girlfriend and another potential love interest). But he and the murder mystery are unfortunately some of the least interesting aspects of the book. He’s overshadowed by terrific stories involving Lori’s dilemma and Lock’s elderly teacher, who sleeps 20 hours a day and is close to death. Supporting characters are likewise fascinating, particularly scene-stealer Len; Lock’s 19-year-old stepdaughter, Bette, who teaches his classes for him; and even Bodacious, whose influence is evident despite his never appearing in the storyline. The book ends with a stunner, ensuring that a third mystery is on its way.

Lock and the mystery have little impact, but they’re surrounded by colorful characters and regaling tales.

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-1494744328

Page Count: 266

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2015

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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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