You won’t put down this powerful and painful tale, the first in a planned series, until you’ve seen its unlikely hero...

HEAVEN'S CROOKED FINGER

A man whose whole life has been colored by the excesses of his father’s execrable ministry tries to come to terms with his past.

Earl Marcus’ daddy, RJ, was a white Georgia mountain preacher, a snake handler who let no sin go unpunished, especially those of his rebellious 17-year-old son. RJ let Earl's sister die by refusing her a doctor, since only God could cure her, and stood by for five days after Earl was bitten by one of his cottonmouths, insisting that divine will would determine his life or death. After impregnating his brother’s girlfriend, Earl is blamed for her suicide. When he refuses to repent, his daddy disowns him, and he’s taken in by a loving black woman widely known as Granny. Years later, when Coulee County sheriff’s deputy Mary Hawkins writes to tell him that Granny, who is actually her grandmother, is dying, he takes time away from his job as a private investigator in North Carolina to spend time with her—a visit that brings him nightmares, releases repressed memories, and lands Mary and him in a truly dangerous situation. A letter from church member Bryant McCauley with a recently time-stamped photo of Earl's supposedly dead and buried father forces him to confront his past and his love/hate relationship with the man he calls Daddy. With McCauley missing, Earl sees that Coulee County hasn’t changed. The corrupt sheriff still hates him, blaming him for his daughter’s death, and Holy Flame, the cultlike church where his older brother, Lester, is now the preacher, seems to be controlled by their father from beyond the grave. In fact, many members, still believing RJ is alive, turn on Lester, who’s trying to make the church more mainstream. Earl uncovers unspeakable acts of violence against young female congregants. Joined by a few rebels and pariahs like himself, he fights his inner demons to discover the truth about his father and the evil machinations of misogynist church members.

You won’t put down this powerful and painful tale, the first in a planned series, until you’ve seen its unlikely hero explore all the avenues of love, hate, deception, and faith and unravel a gripping mystery.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68331-391-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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POP GOES THE WEASEL

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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