On the plus side, the master criminal, instantly forgettable on his own terms, will tap into many paranoid readers’ twin...

THE BROKEN WINDOW

It’s a must-solve case for quadriplegic criminalist Lincoln Rhyme when his cousin is arrested for murder.

The evidence seems incontrovertible. Arthur Rhyme came over to Alice Sanderson’s apartment—leaving generous amounts of trace evidence from his home and DNA traces from his person—then attacked and killed her; stole a prized painting she’d just purchased; and left, obligingly depositing trace evidence from the crime scene back home. But since Rhyme can’t believe that his cousin killed anyone, he’s forced to conclude that there’s been an elaborate frame-up by someone who may well have done the same thing before. Fans of the serial-killer specialist (The Cold Moon, 2006, etc.) won’t be surprised when Rhyme, his partner Amelia Sachs and the rest of the NYPD crew he’s hastily cobbled together turn up two well-nigh identical crimes that exonerate Arthur to their satisfaction, even though he continues to languish in a lockup that seems to get more dangerous by the hour. A rare slip by the elusive killer leaves Rhyme with a bag of material he’d been on his way to plant at the home of still another innocent suspect. The big catch here is a Post-It note that sends Rhyme and company to Strategic Systems Datacorp, which collects and resells data, mountains of data, on every American it can. Deciding that the perp knows so much about the patsies he sets up, from their shoe sizes to their favorite brands of underwear, that he must have some connection to SSD, Rhyme commences collecting data on the data collectors. The ensuing investigation, which bogs down amid factitious thrills and the faceless geeks at SSD, feels like the work of a ghostwriter who knows the formula and uses the right names but lacks Deaver’s customary brio and fiendish ingenuity.

On the plus side, the master criminal, instantly forgettable on his own terms, will tap into many paranoid readers’ twin bogeymen: identity theft and government surveillance.

Pub Date: June 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4165-4997-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2008

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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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A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...

BADLANDS

Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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