A noteworthy whodunit with unexpected plot twists.

BAD MEDICINE

An academic scientist, assigned to resolve a research dispute, instead uncovers conspiracies and murder in Cooper’s third medical thriller in a series.

As the story opens, Brad Parker, the chair of Boston Technological Institute’s department of integrated life sciences, has been coerced by a colleague into arbitrating a tenure case at the Maine Translational Research Institute. Carolyn Gelman, who’s almost universally despised by that institution’s faculty, claims that Mark Heller, a faculty favorite with ties to the pharmaceutical industry, is attempting to undermine her work. Both candidates do research into treating cancers that don’t respond to conventional methods. Cooper effectively guides readers through the hard science, letting narrator Brad explain Gelman’s lecture, for example, in order to keep readers engaged: “She focused on drugs that acted by inhibiting a class of enzymes called receptor tyrosine kinases, or RTKs….” An unknown interlocutor attempts to destroy Gelman’s research and poisons clinical trial patients, causing one to die. It turns out that the suspect works for someone with enough influence to get them a job as a lab assistant under Tom Carlson, a senior faculty member and one of Heller’s supporters. Moreover, it turns out that a suspect in FBI agent Karen Richmond’s case involving Russian mobsters happens to match the suspect’s body type. Such improbable connections between academia and organized crime will keep readers wondering if they see clues where they don’t exist or if they’re closing in on deeper intrigues. However, the novel sometimes falls short in other areas, such as dialogue, which occasionally lapses into the more dubious noir conventions, as when an adversary says to Brad, “You’re better than I thought you’d be. Or your FBI girlfriend is.” Still, the novel also offers quite a few swerves and red herrings to maintain tension throughout.

A noteworthy whodunit with unexpected plot twists.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63381-248-2

Page Count: 249

Publisher: Maine Authors Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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Generations may succeed generations, but Sandford’s patented investigation/action formula hasn’t aged a whit. Bring it on.

THE INVESTIGATOR

A domestic-terrorist plot gives the adopted daughter of storied U.S. Marshal Lucas Davenport her moment to shine.

Veteran oilman Vermilion Wright knows that losing a few thousand gallons of crude is no more than an accounting error to his company but could mean serious money to whomever’s found a way to siphon it off from wells in Texas’ Permian Basin. So he asks Sen. Christopher Colles, Chair of Homeland Security and Government Affairs, to look into it, and Colles persuades 24-year-old Letty Davenport, who’s just quit his employ, to return and partner with Department of Homeland Security agent John Kaiser to track down the thieves. The plot that right-winger Jane Jael Hawkes and her confederates, most of them service veterans with disgruntled attitudes and excellent military skills, have hatched is more dire than anything Wright could have imagined. They plan to use the proceeds from the oil thefts to purchase some black-market C4 essential to a major act of terrorism that will simultaneously express their alarm about the country’s hospitality to illegal immigrants and put the Jael-Birds on the map for good. But they haven’t reckoned with Letty, another kid born on the wrong side of the tracks who can outshoot the men she’s paired with and outthink the vigilantes she finds herself facing—and who, along with her adoptive father, makes a memorable pair of “pragmatists. Really harsh pragmatists” willing to do whatever needs doing without batting an eye or losing a night’s sleep afterward.

Generations may succeed generations, but Sandford’s patented investigation/action formula hasn’t aged a whit. Bring it on.

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-32868-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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A bracing test of the maxim that “the department always comes first. The department always wins.”

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THE DARK HOURS

Meet today’s LAPD, with both good and bad apples reduced to reacting to crimes defensively instead of trying to prevent them, unless of course they’re willing to break the rules.

New Year’s Eve 2020 finds Detective Renée Ballard, survivor of rape and Covid-19, partnered with Detective Lisa Moore, of Hollywood’s Sexual Assault Unit, in search of leads on the Midnight Men, a tag team of rapists who assaulted women on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve without leaving any forensic evidence behind. The pair are called to the scene of a shooting that would have gone to West Bureau Homicide if the unit weren’t already stretched to the limit, a case that should be handed over to West Bureau ASAP. But Ballard gets her teeth into the murder of body shop owner Javier Raffa, who reportedly bought his way out of the gang Las Palmas. The news that Raffa’s been shot by the same weapon that killed rapper Albert Lee 10 years ago sends Ballard once more to Harry Bosch, the poster boy for retirements that drive the LAPD crazy. Both victims had taken on silent partners in order to liquidate their debts, and there’s every indication that the partners were linked. That’s enough for Ballard and Bosch to launch a shadow investigation even as Ballard, abandoned by Moore, who’s flown the coop for the weekend, works feverishly to identify the Midnight Men on her own. As usual in this stellar series, the path to the last act is paved with false leads, interdepartmental squabbles, and personal betrayals, and the structure sometimes sways in the breeze. But no one who follows Ballard and Bosch to the end will be disappointed.

A bracing test of the maxim that “the department always comes first. The department always wins.”

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-48564-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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