A relatively straightforward performance by the devious Deaver, with fewer open-mouthed surprises than usual, but fewer...

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THE BURNING WIRE

Indefatigable prestidigitator Deaver sets quadriplegic criminalist Lincoln Rhyme (The Broken Window, 2008, etc.) against a wraithlike terrorist who’s threatening to wreak havoc on New York’s electrical-power grid.

The first incident—within minutes, four electrical substations in Algonquin Consolidated Power’s electrical grid go offline, and a fifth, carrying the enormous load of current that normally would have been divided among them all, throws off a lethal arc—attracts instant attention from the NYPD, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and of course Rhyme, who encourages his lover, Det. Amelia Sachs, to walk the crime scene looking for whatever trace evidence hasn’t been destroyed. Miraculously, predictably, Sachs finds just enough to generate some slender leads. So when the malefactor sends a blustering demand that Algonquin CEO Andrea Jessen execute a rolling brownout across the city, briefly cutting the power in half, and threatening more violence if his demands aren’t met, Rhyme and Co. succeed in keeping casualties down, though not eliminating them. As the clock ticks down to Earth Day and the threats continue to set deadlines for more service interruptions Algonquin refuses to meet, Deaver varies the mix with a series of off-speed pitches. The FBI’s Fred Dellray purloins $100K for an informant who promises results and then takes a powder. Patrolman Ron Pulaski, panicking at the possibility that his cruiser is booby-trapped, accidentally runs down a pedestrian. From his wheelchair, Rhyme assists Mexican authorities in their pursuit of Richard Logan, the nefarious Watchmaker who escaped justice in The Cold Moon (2006). And two visitors with very different agendas offer Rhyme new options for his future. Only the canniest readers will see which of these grace notes are red herrings and which are linked in crucial ways to the case at hand.

A relatively straightforward performance by the devious Deaver, with fewer open-mouthed surprises than usual, but fewer gratuitous plot twists as well. Newcomers to this celebrated series could do worse than to start here.

Pub Date: June 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4391-5633-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2010

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Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

CROOKED RIVER

FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast finds evil afoot in his latest action-filled adventure (Verses for the Dead, 2018, etc.).

Imagine Florida beachcombers’ shock when they discover a shoe with a severed foot inside. Soon they see dozens more feet, all in identical shoes, bobbing toward the beach. Police and FBI ultimately count more than a hundred of them washing up on Sanibel and Captiva Islands' tranquil shores. Pendergast teams up with the junior Special Agent Armstrong Coldmoon to investigate this strange phenomenon. Oceanographers use a supercomputer to analyze Gulf currents and attempt to determine where the feet entered the ocean. Were they dumped off a ship or an island? Does each one represent a homicide? Analysts examine chemical residues and pollen, even the angle of each foot’s amputation, but the puzzle defies all explanation. Attention focuses on Cuba, where “something terrible was happening” in front of a coastal prison, and on China, the apparent source of the shoes. The clever plot is “a most baffling case indeed” for the brilliant Pendergast, but it’s the type of problem he thrives on. He’s hardly a stereotypical FBI agent, given for example his lemon-colored silk suit, his Panama hat, and his legendary insistence on working alone—until now. Pendergast rarely blinks—perhaps, someone surmises, he’s part reptile. But equally odd is Constance Greene, his “extraordinarily beautiful,” smart, and sarcastic young “ward” who has “eyes that had seen everything and, as a result, were surprised by nothing.” Coldmoon is more down to earth: part Lakota, part Italian, and “every inch a Fed.” Add in murderous drug dealers, an intrepid newspaper reporter, coyotes crossing the U.S.–Mexico border, and a pissed-off wannabe graphic novelist, and you have a thoroughly entertaining cast of characters. There is plenty of suspense, and the action gets bloody.

Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4725-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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