VIOLENT CRIMES

Holton must be getting more sleep. His fourth plunges into the murky waters of the Chicago police procedural is his least phantasmagoric, most cinematic book to date. The case begins quietly (though in fact the opening scene is the only quiet moment here) with the discovery of a dead soldier detailed to guard Astrolab Industries' arsenal of high-tech weaponry. Before you can say Rambo, an impressively armored assassin has used Astrolab's latest gear to blow up the Temple of Allah, stronghold of Minister Abdul Ali Malik, a.k.a. fence/pimp Slick Rick Johnson. The assault on Allah's emissary is only the first strike (if you don't count that army guard) in millionaire Steven Zalkin's plan to annihilate everyone who gave him a hard time during his last stretch in the Windy City 15 years ago. Since Zalkin (nÇ Martin Zykus), as Holton reveals in two chunky flashbacks, was a lowly busboy who left Chicago back then wanted for rape and aggravated assault and just having confessed to multiple homicides, that's quite a list of targets. There's Sister Mary Louise Stallings, the saintly rape victim who took holy orders instead of turning Zykus in. There's Commander Larry Cole (Chicago Blues, p. 336, etc.) and Sergeant Blackie Silvestri, the two officers who kept arresting Zykus and were forced to let him go by corrupt and incompetent superiors. There's Frank Delahanty, sozzled Times-Herald columnist who ridiculed Zykus, and who's now using his column to bait Zalkin, not even aware—as nobody else seems to notice either—that Zalkin is really Zykus. (Eerily, Zalkin is arrested once again in his present-day incarnation, and once again released by the dim- witted top brass.) Can Cole and his staunch colleagues take Zalkin as Zykus before Zalkin uses the last of his stolen armaments to reduce the Second District police station to a fine powder? Newcomers to Holton's supercharged procedurals will find this season's relatively sedate installment their best chance of hopping this runaway train.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 1997

ISBN: 0-312-86281-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1996

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Bargain-basement plotting, fewer thrills than a tax audit, and cardboard sleuths poised to return for a sequel. But the...

1ST TO DIE

Four women band together to catch the forgettable fiend who's murdering newlyweds.

Even before she knows she's dealing with a serial killer, Inspector Lindsay Boxer is overcome with emotion at the beautiful young corpses of David and Melanie Brandt. Retreating to the ladies' room moments after tossing upstart reporter Cindy Thomas out of the crime scene, she runs into Cindy, who's sneaked inside to slip Lindsay her card and tell her to call her if she ever wants to talk about the case. There's no earthly reason for an experienced homicide cop to accept this invitation, so Lindsay naturally does, and soon after the killer scores a second double play, Lindsay's best friend Claire Washburn, San Francisco's chief medical examiner, and Jill Bernhardt, from the D.A.'s office, have joined the Women's Murder Club. The conceit here is that the quartet pool their skills to crack the case, but apart from sharing anecdotes about sex in public places and offering sympathetic shoulders to Lindsay, who's been diagnosed with life-threatening aplastic anemia, the others don't do much detection. Neither does Captain Chris Raleigh, Lindsay's new partner, whom Patterson (Roses Are Red, 2000, etc.) has evidently provided his heroine for another purpose entirely. In fact, the crucial break in the case comes from an utterly unexpected source: Cleveland, where a third pair of bride-and-groom victims points a finger at a popular author who swears that although he's lied about the crime, and although the evidence against him is out to here, he's being set up. Is he or isn't he?

Bargain-basement plotting, fewer thrills than a tax audit, and cardboard sleuths poised to return for a sequel. But the relentless velocity is guaranteed to hook fans of the bestselling Patterson, who'll presumably be hearing from the police the next time somebody declares war on young love.

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-316-66600-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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Middling for this fine series, which automatically makes it one of the season’s highlights.

FREE FIRE

Fired from his job as Game and Fish Warden after wrapping up his colorful sixth case (In Plain Sight, 2006), Joe Pickett returns to nab the perpetrator of the perfect crime.

According to his own confession, small-time lawyer Clay McCann, feeling bullied and insulted by four campers he encountered in Yellowstone Park, shot them dead. A ingenious technicality he’s discovered, however, prevents him from being tried and convicted. Wyoming Governor Spencer Rulon, a former prosecutor, can only slap McCann’s wrist, but he’s determined to figure out what Rick Hoening, one of the victims, meant by an email that hinted at secrets that could have a major impact on the state’s financial health. So he asks Joe, now working as foreman at his father-in-law’s ranch, to poke around the park while maintaining full deniability for the Governor. The situation stinks, but Joe’s so eager to get away from his wife’s poisonous mother and go back to his old job that he agrees, and in short order there’s a spate of new killings to deal with—some committed by McCann, some not. As usual, there’s little mystery about which of the sketchy suspects is behind the skullduggery. But, as usual, the central situation is so strong, the continuing characters so appealing and the spectacular landscape so lovingly evoked that it doesn’t matter.

Middling for this fine series, which automatically makes it one of the season’s highlights.

Pub Date: May 10, 2007

ISBN: 0-399-15427-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2007

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