THE GOODBYE MAN

Not the best Deaver to offer friends you are hoping to get as firmly hooked as you are.

Colter Shaw, the freelance bounty hunter who debuted in The Never Game (2019), infiltrates a cult masquerading as a grief support group.

Despite the usual hard-nosed competition from his rival, Dalton Crowe, Shaw has no trouble locating suspected neo-Nazis Adam Harper and Erick Young, sought for burning a cross on the grounds of a church, and turning them over to the police. That’s when everything goes sideways, for the law in this case is so lawless that Adam would rather kill himself than be arrested, and Erick narrowly escapes with his life. Troubled enough to look into the fugitives’ histories, Shaw is led to the Osiris Foundation, a for-profit enclave in the mountains of Washington, which had clearly changed Adam’s life. Turning the hefty reward the Western Washington Ecumenical Council had offered for their apprehension over to Erick’s parents, Shaw goes underground as Carter Skye, enrolling in the Process™ developed by Osiris founder and director Master Eli, ne David Ellis. He quickly finds himself mired in an isolated cult in which paramilitary bodyguards support a leader who has every flaw you’d expect from his role. The thrills that follow are authentic, but the attempt to weave this plot together with Shaw’s continuing quest for the truth about his survivalist father’s last months is surprisingly awkward, and the use of four separate scenes in which characters you thought were dead spring back to life suggests that the boundlessly inventive Deaver may be running low on new tricks.

Not the best Deaver to offer friends you are hoping to get as firmly hooked as you are.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53597-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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

A FLICKER IN THE DARK

The story is sadly familiar, the treatment claustrophobically intense.

Twenty years after Chloe Davis’ father was convicted of killing half a dozen young women, someone seems to be celebrating the anniversary by extending the list.

No one in little Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, was left untouched by Richard Davis’ confession, least of all his family members. His wife, Mona, tried to kill herself and has been incapacitated ever since. His son, Cooper, became so suspicious that even now it’s hard for him to accept pharmaceutical salesman Daniel Briggs, whose sister, Sophie, also vanished 20 years ago, as Chloe’s fiance. And Chloe’s own nightmares, which lead her to rebuff New York Times reporter Aaron Jansen, who wants to interview her for an anniversary story, are redoubled when her newest psychiatric patient, Lacey Deckler, follows the path of high school student Aubrey Gravino by disappearing and then turning up dead. The good news is that Dick Davis, whom Chloe has had no contact with ever since he was imprisoned after his confession, obviously didn’t commit these new crimes. The bad news is that someone else did, someone who knows a great deal about the earlier cases, someone who could be very close to Chloe indeed. First-timer Willingham laces her first-person narrative with a stifling sense of victimhood that extends even to the survivors and a series of climactic revelations, at least some of which are guaranteed to surprise the most hard-bitten readers.

The story is sadly familiar, the treatment claustrophobically intense.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-2508-0382-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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