This little ditty about Jack and Diane is a fast-paced read that finds a few new wrinkles in a familiar genre.

BURN ONE DOWN

“How hard could it be to steal from a bunch of potheads?” Thief Jack Apple finds out when he enters into a suspicious partnership to rob a medical marijuana dispensary in Cooper’s (How to Steal a Truck Full of Nickels, 2015) novel.

One of the most irresistible crime-fiction tropes is the criminal who wants to go straight but gets drawn in for one last score. But the sooner Jack puts his criminal life behind him, the better; even he has doubts that he’s “the master thief he once thought he was” due to a botched heist that opens the book. In it, he attempts to rob a home in which the resident, his violent goons, and some vicious dogs are present. On this fateful night, he also meets Diane Thomas, a 20-something femme fatale with an intriguing proposition. She wants him to help her rob a medical marijuana dispensary for a six-figure payoff; she stole the idea from her estranged husband. Jack puts up token resistance, but Diane is nothing if not persuasive. Before readers can say Dog Day Afternoon, the heist goes awry and a hostage situation ensues. Soon, Jack is dealing with a tough-talking sheriff facing re-election, a restless mob, activists eager to exploit the explosive situation, and competing TV news anchors with their own agendas. By the time the dispensary owner tells Jack, “You have no idea what a lousy idea this is, do you?” it’s too late. Overall, Cooper gives Jack some of the best lines in this brisk book (“Robbery is easy. Getting away with it is the hard part”), but Diane, who’s painted as a trigger-happy and not entirely trustworthy character (“I wasn’t lying. I just wasn’t telling you everything”), gives as good as she gets. Less convincing are the news media and hostages, who are more broadly and unconvincingly drawn. There’s a nifty, sequel-ready climax, although the novel’s epilogue, which ties up some of the less engaging plot threads, takes some of the wind out of the story’s sails.

This little ditty about Jack and Diane is a fast-paced read that finds a few new wrinkles in a familiar genre.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 249

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2018

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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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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