A pleasant romp all the same; as lightweight as a whiffleball—but fun.

READ REVIEW

PRIVATE GAMES

Zingy formula—emphasis on formula—fiction from the literary maquiladora that is James Patterson.

All right, it’s not literature. But Patterson, he of six dozen novels and counting, has an uncanny knack for the timely thriller, and this one is no exception. The Private of the title is a security firm (think Blackwater, though better at hiding its secrets) charged with providing said security during the London Olympic Games. As the book opens in July 2012, a Very Bad Man is about to disrupt the games in ways that the Palestinians at Munich could never imagine, with the secondary aim, it would seem, of watching the cream of British pop music run for the exits: “To keep the infernal singing from getting to me, I focus on the fact that just a few minutes from now, I will reveal myself. And when I do I’ll be able to rejoice in their shared horror—McCartney, John, and Faithfull, too.” Now, Sir Paul and Sir Elton, sure, but what’s Marianne Faithfull ever done, apart from smoke too many cigarettes, to offend this puritan? It’s tipoff enough that he goes by the name of Cronus, the Greek Ur-god that killed and ate his own children. So, Hannibal Lecter, no? Not quite—and nowhere near Thomas Harris’ league, insofar as the writing is concerned. Private eye Peter Knight, whose name is as suggestive as Philip Marlowe’s, goes into action, working with the ever-irritating reporter Karen Pope to take down the voracious Mr. Bad, who shares narrator duties with the authors, and who seems to take a rather wide view of which children he’s entitled to eat. Will the world ever be safe from our literal spoilsport? Read this and see. Be offended if you’re a fan of Renée Zellweger or dislike offhand sexism. Be more offended if you’re a fan of English writ well.

A pleasant romp all the same; as lightweight as a whiffleball—but fun. 

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-20682-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2012

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These characters are so beloved that readers may not mind when a few twists veer dangerously close to the absurd.

WHEN YOU SEE ME

Three Gardner fan favorites—FBI agent Kimberly Quincy, Sgt. D.D. Warren of the Boston Police, and serial-killer–survivor–turned-vigilante Flora Dane—team up to untangle a series of murders, and lots of small-town secrets, in the Georgia hills.

On a hike in the hills outside the quaint tourist town of Niche, Georgia, a couple finds the partial skeletal remains of Lilah Abenito, who went missing 15 years ago. Lilah was thought to be one of the first victims connected to Jacob Ness, who kidnapped Flora eight years ago when she was a Boston college student and held her captive, mostly in a coffin-sized box, for 472 days. The chance to link the deceased Ness to additional crimes is impossible to pass up, and FBI agent Kimberly Quincy invites D.D., Flora (who is a confidential informant for D.D.), and computer analyst Keith Edgar, Flora's friend/love interest, to be part of her task force. A search through the hills turns up a mass grave full of more skeletal remains. While D.D. is updating the mayor, Howard Counsel, and his wife, Martha, who own the charming Mountain Laurel B&B, she becomes interested in their timid, fearful maid, a young Hispanic woman who's brain damaged and unable to speak following a car accident when she was a child. When Martha suddenly hangs herself (or so it seems), D.D. realizes something very odd is going on at ye olde B&B. Gardner juggles multiple narratives, including that of the Counsels’ nameless maid, with ease. However, the involvement of two civilians in a major federal task force is initially hard to swallow, as are a few supernatural elements Gardner (Look for Me, 2018, etc.) shoehorns in. But Flora’s tentative romance with Keith and her realization that she might finally be thriving, not just surviving, are bright spots, as is Gardner’s evolving and sensitive exploration of trauma and its insidious, lasting effects.

These characters are so beloved that readers may not mind when a few twists veer dangerously close to the absurd.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4500-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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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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