The result is a political cocktail almost as fizzy and inventive as The Onion or The Wall Street Journal in which every...

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UNDER THE EYE OF GOD

Isaac Sidel, commissioner of police turned New York City mayor, adds a new title to his résumé: vice president-elect of the United States.

Added to the Democratic ticket in 1988 to juice the appeal of J. Michael Storm, a baseball czar with feet of clay (Citizen Sidel, 1999), Isaac swiftly becomes the main story. Crowds and Republicans adore him, ignoring the presidential candidate who took 47 states. Even J. Michael’s 12-year-old daughter, Marianna, takes up a staunch position at “Uncle Isaac’s” side, prompting fearful echoes of Lolita. Amid all the hoopla, however, deeper currents swirl. A Korean War vet aiming at Isaac during a trip to San Antonio shoots his Secret Service bodyguard instead. Isaac finds David Pearl, the banker who was the longtime silent partner to Isaac’s glover father, holed up in Manhattan’s Ansonia Hotel brewing heaven knows what dastardly schemes. Isaac falls hard for David’s inamorata, Inez, nee Trudy Winckleman, but knows their relationship can’t possibly end well. Instead of readying himself for the vice presidency, the Big Man prefers to play out his last days as the mayoral savior of the five boroughs. All around him, meanwhile, career politicians, campaign consultants, political strategists, psychiatrists and astrologers do what they do best: discern conspiracies, take fright and counter them with their own megalomaniac fantasies. All of this uproar in the national hall of mirrors, in which friends are really enemies and enemies are really nuts, perfectly suits Charyn’s tropism for antic mythologizing. The new threats arriving on every page are often extended, inflated and dispatched in time for the next paragraph break.

The result is a political cocktail almost as fizzy and inventive as The Onion or The Wall Street Journal in which every development is dark, urgent and apocalyptic, and none of it matters a bit.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4532-7099-8

Page Count: 222

Publisher: MysteriousPress.com

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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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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Now that Coben’s added politics to his heady brew, expect sex and religion to join the mix.

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THE BOY FROM THE WOODS

Coben’s latest darkest-suburbs thriller sets a decidedly offbeat detective on the trail of a crime with overtones unmistakably redolent of once and future presidential elections.

Wilde is called Wilde because nobody’s known his real name from the moment a pair of hikers found him foraging for himself in Ramapo Mountain State Forest 24 years ago. Now over 40, he’s had experience as both a lost boy and a private investigator. That makes him an obvious person to help when his godson, Sweet Water High School student Matthew Crimstein, expresses concern to his grandmother, attorney Hester Crimstein, that his bullied classmate Naomi Pine has gone missing. Matthew doesn’t really want anyone to help. He doesn’t even want anyone to notice his agitation. But Hester, taking the time from her criminal defense of financial consultant Simon Greene (Run Away, 2019) to worm the details out of him, asks Wilde to lend a hand, and sure enough, Wilde, unearthing an unsavory backstory that links Naomi to bullying classmate Crash Maynard, whose TV producer father, Dash Maynard, is close friends with reality TV star–turned–presidential hopeful Rusty Eggers, finds Naomi hale and hearty. Everything’s hunky-dory for one week, and then she disappears again. And this time, so does Crash after a brief visit to Matthew in which he tearfully confesses his guilt about the bad stuff he did to Naomi. This second disappearance veers into more obviously criminal territory with the arrival of a ransom note that demands, not money, but the allegedly incriminating videotapes of Rusty Eggers that Dash and Delia Maynard have had squirreled away for 30 years. The tapes link Rusty to a forgotten and forgettable homicide and add a paranoid new ripped-from-the-headlines dimension to the author’s formidable range. Readers who can tune out all the subplots will find the kidnappers easy to spot, but Coben finds room for three climactic surprises, one of them a honey.

Now that Coben’s added politics to his heady brew, expect sex and religion to join the mix.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4814-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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