Thoft (Loyalty, 2013) doesn’t hold back on her gutsy detective’s flaws or on irrelevant side trips. But Fina’s second outing...


A free-wheeling Boston private eye learns the unintended consequences of charitable donations.

Fina Ludlow lives on diet soda and junk, wins no prizes for housekeeping, juggles two part-time lovers, has an iffy relationship with the truth and prefers the streets to the conference room of her family’s prestigious law firm. Her father doesn’t approve of her, but he does find her talents useful, especially when she does some sleuthing for a client who’s suing Heritage Cryobank to learn the identity of her daughter’s sperm donor. Fina spares no effort (not all of it strictly legal) to out the father, Hank Reardon, a high-tech billionaire with a son by his first marriage, a daughter by his second and the offspring of some impulsive contributions to Heritage shortly after his college graduation. Although he offers to do right by his recently discovered issue, someone’s unhappy enough to bludgeon him to death in the parking lot of his company. When Michael Reardon hires Fina to find out who killed his father, she has to determine why two of his cryokids have phony alibis, how angry Hank’s partner was about being left out of a lucrative waterfront deal, why Hank’s former wife and current wife have dueling charities in the Boston area, and why, just before his death, Hank made several phone calls to the director of Heritage. In spite of warnings that grow increasingly physical, Fina won’t give up in a whodunit that maddeningly builds up momentum and then jams on the brakes to describe the hair and eye color of even minor characters or Fina’s snack of choice.

Thoft (Loyalty, 2013) doesn’t hold back on her gutsy detective’s flaws or on irrelevant side trips. But Fina’s second outing is a mostly enjoyable roller-coaster tour of the rapidly changing world of assisted reproduction.

Pub Date: June 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-16213-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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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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