Grippando gets underway with a bang and never lets up, springing a series of carefully calibrated surprises in and out of...

MOST DANGEROUS PLACE

Miami lawyer Jack Swyteck’s 25th case is one of his best.

The most dangerous place a woman can be, Isabelle Bornelli was told long ago, is in a relationship with a man. Since then the former Venezuelan beauty-pageant contestant has entered a doctoral program in psychology, married high-powered wealth manager Keith Ingraham, and gone off to make her home with him in Hong Kong, far from the University of Miami, where fellow student Gabriel Sosa raped her 12 years earlier. Her illusions of safety end when she gets off a plane in Miami, where she’s come to take her 5-year-old, Melany, for surgery to correct the hearing loss brought on by meningitis, and is promptly taken into custody for Sosa’s murder. Since Keith is a close friend of Jack, who’s on hand to witness the arrest, she’s got herself some highly capable representation (Black Horizon, 2014, etc.). But all the other men in her life spell trouble. Her college boyfriend David Kaval prepares to tell the court she egged him and a friend on to kill Sosa shortly after the assault in exchange for a deal that will release him from the prison term his more recent convictions for conspiracy and armed robbery have earned him. Her estranged father, former Venezuelan consul officer Felipe Bornelli, plans to direct her defense along his own lines, even if that means sabotaging Jack. Manuel Espinosa, the slick attorney who gets her released on bail after Jack fails to deliver, insinuates himself into her defense in disquietingly manipulative ways. Even her husband becomes a potential danger when hard-driving prosecutor Sylvia Hunt charges him as an accessory and the couple’s two cases are separated, paving the way for a plea bargain for each of them in return for testimony against the other.

Grippando gets underway with a bang and never lets up, springing a series of carefully calibrated surprises in and out of the courtroom guaranteed to catch even the canniest readers unaware.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-244055-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once...

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

In Baldacci’s 19th (True Blue, 2009, etc.), boy and girl monster-hunters meet cute.

Evan Waller, aka Fadir Kuchin, aka “the Butcher of Kiev,” aka “the Ukrainian psychopath,” is one of those deep-dyed villains a certain kind of fiction can’t do without. Serving with distinction as part of the Soviet Union’s KGB, he joyfully and indiscriminately killed thousands. Now, many years later, posing as a successful businessman, he’s vacationing in Provence where, unbeknownst to him, two separate clandestine operations are being mounted by people who do not regard him with favor. Reggie Campion—28 and gorgeous—spearheads the first, an ad hoc group of monster-hunting vigilantes. Studly, tall Shaw (no first name supplied) is point guard for a rival team, shadowy enough to leave the matter of its origin ambiguous. While their respective teams reconnoiter and jockey for position, studly boy meets gorgeous girl. Monster-hunters are famous for having trust issues, but clearly these are drawn to each other in the time-honored Hollywood fashion. Shaw saves Reggie’s life. She returns the favor. The attraction deepens and heats up to the point where team-members on both sides grow unsettled by the loss of focus, singularly inopportune since, as monsters go, Waller rises to the second coming of Caligula—ample testimony furnished by a six-page, unsparingly detailed torture scene. In the end, the stalkers strike, bullets fly, screams curdle the blood, love has its innings and a monster does what a monster’s got to do.

The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once again show the stuff it’s made of.

Pub Date: April 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-446-56408-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Avon A/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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