The dialogue scenes, along with the action sequences, the South Texas landscape and the indelibly conflicted characters make...

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FEAST DAY OF FOOLS

Hackberry Holland’s third appearance, and Burke’s 30th, brings back sociopathic killer Preacher Jack Collins (Rain Gods, 2009, etc.), but this time surrounds him with so many seriously bad guys that he can scarcely get the sheriff to take his phone calls.

Danny Boy Lorca, visionary and drunk, has a wild story to tell. He witnessed a coyote pursuing two fleeing men and shooting one of them to death. The discovery of DEA informant Hector Lopez’s corpse confirms the first part of Danny Boy’s story. What’s become of the surviving fugitive? It seems clear that the coyote was either Antonio Vargas, aka Krill, or his enthusiastic sidekick Negrito, and scarcely less clear that the man on the run is Noie Barnum, an enigmatic ex–federal employee whose knowledge of certain military secrets makes him the Holy Grail sought by the FBI’s Ethan Riser, self-anointed citizen soldier Temple Dowling and Russian porn dealer Josef Sholokoff, who plans to sell his to al-Qaeda so that their members can pump him dry. But why has he taken refuge with Preacher Jack, and which of his pursuers will end up with the Grail? Before the answers to these tangled mysteries finally surface, Hackberry will rescue one of his deputies, R.C. Bevins, from darkest Coahuila; continue to fend off romantic overtures from another, Pam Tibbs; and fight his way through dozens of the kinds of conversations of the sort that Burke does better than anyone else, in which two men of action (or women of action, like homesteader/mystic Anton Ling) lunge at each other with fighting words while talking past each other completely because they’re really fighting themselves.

The dialogue scenes, along with the action sequences, the South Texas landscape and the indelibly conflicted characters make you want to give Burke a medal; the tangled plot, which lurches from one great sequence to the next without going anywhere but the grave, is the price you pay for these deep pleasures.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4311-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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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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