The heroine’s miraculous powers, the seemingly unstoppable villains, the perfunctory interest in character, the punchy...

No-longer-blind music therapist Kendra Michaels, who’s already survived 26 attempts on her life (Look Behind You, 2017, etc.) while consulting with the FBI, gets an offer she can’t refuse about a new case.

Connecticut paralegal Elena Meyer was run down as she sprinted across San Diego’s Fifth Street, but she’d already been fatally shot. Why would Kendra be interested in the murder of a visitor she’d never met? Because Elena was carrying an envelope addressed to Kendra containing a memory stick with a video of a wedding. Given Kendra’s razor-sharp senses and keen logical prowess, it’s child’s play for her to establish that the wedding was that of Elizabeth and Jeffery Gelson. But it takes quite a while to figure out why Elena would have found it so urgent to share the video, which seems as innocuous as most of its ilk. When Kendra’s frequent collaborator, freelance consultant Adam Lynch, takes her to visit Brock Limited, a hardball security firm Elena’s law practice had been defending in what everybody insists was a routine lawsuit, Josh Blake, the Brock VP who’s repeatedly tried to recruit Adam, shows a dramatically darker side. Meanwhile, Kendra has already survived her 27th murder attempt, this one by French bulldog and poisoned leash. Readers know from the beginning who killed Elena Meyer but not why her killer continues to target other members of the Gelson wedding party or why he leaves each succeeding corpse at the same spot from which he kidnaps his next victim (a creepy twist that’s never satisfactorily explained). Although Kendra tosses off on-the-spot deductions as briskly as Sherlock Holmes, the emphasis is less on mystery than on the cat-and-mouse game between Kendra and the FBI, on the one hand, and the dark forces of Brock Ltd., on the other.

The heroine’s miraculous powers, the seemingly unstoppable villains, the perfunctory interest in character, the punchy dialogue, and the highly efficient action sequences suggest more clearly than ever that what the Johansens have been doing throughout this series is writing superhero comics without the pictures.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-07599-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018


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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020


As in summer movies, a triple dose of violence conceals the absence of real menace when neither victims nor avengers stir...

Dr. Alex Cross has left Metro DC Homicide for the FBI, but it’s business as usual in this laughably rough-hewn fairy tale of modern-day white slavery.

According to reliable sources, more people are being sold into slavery than ever before, and it all seems to be going down on the FBI’s watch. Atlanta ex-reporter Elizabeth Connolly, who looks just like Claudia Schiffer, is the ninth target over the past two years to be abducted by a husband-and-wife pair who travel the country at the behest of the nefarious Pasha Sorokin, the Wolf of the Red Mafiya. The only clues are those deliberately left behind by the kidnappers, who snatch fashion designer Audrey Meek from the King of Prussia Mall in full view of her children, or patrons like Audrey’s purchaser, who ends up releasing her and killing himself. Who you gonna call? Alex Cross, of course. Even though he still hasn’t finished the Agency’s training course, all the higher-ups he runs into, from hardcases who trust him to lickspittles seething with envy, have obviously read his dossier (Four Blind Mice, 2002, etc.), and they know the new guy is “close to psychic,” a “one-man flying squad” who’s already a legend, “like Clarice Starling in the movies.” It’s lucky that Cross’s reputation precedes him, because his fond creator doesn’t give him much to do here but chase suspects identified by obliging tipsters and worry about his family (Alex Jr.’s mother, alarmed at Cross’s dangerous job, is suing for custody) while the Wolf and his cronies—Sterling, Mr. Potter, the Art Director, Sphinx, and the Marvel—kidnap more dishy women (and the occasional gay man) and kill everybody who gets in their way, and quite a few poor souls who don’t.

As in summer movies, a triple dose of violence conceals the absence of real menace when neither victims nor avengers stir the slightest sympathy.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2003

ISBN: 0-316-60290-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2003

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