Walsh’s (The Attenbury Emeralds, 2011, etc.) respectful attempt to keep the franchise going will invite the scrutiny of...

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THE LATE SCHOLAR

Intrigue and murder in academe lead to further adventures for aristocratic sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey, the once-carefree second son now approaching senior citizenship.

Ever since a fire killed his older brother and damaged Bredon Hall, the seat of the Duke of Denver, Peter has taken his duties more seriously. Now he’s surprised to find that along with the title comes the office of Visitor to St. Severin’s College at Oxford. Peter took his degree at Oxford, as did his duchess, the former Harriet Vane, and she supports his obligation to the dreaming spires. When they arrive, they find St. Severin’s fellows deadlocked in a vote that only the Visitor can resolve. The wrangle centers on a medieval manuscript; half the fellows want to keep it, and half want to sell in exchange for much-needed land on the edge of town. In the meantime, the warden of the college has left abruptly without so much as a toothbrush, and no one has seen him for three months. Two fellows have suffered incidents that echo Harriet’s detective novels, which she based on her husband’s cases, and another fellow has taken a fatal tumble down stairs. It’s the first in a series of murders or attempted murders connected to an unfavorable anonymous book review, a suicide, a frightened widow and a case of blackmail. Addressing all these issues and saving St. Severin’s takes patience and diligence for Peter and Harriet—and for readers who may fidget over the leisurely pace and the insulated academic setting in post–WWII Britain.

Walsh’s (The Attenbury Emeralds, 2011, etc.) respectful attempt to keep the franchise going will invite the scrutiny of Wimsey purists, and newcomers may find the Duke affected. Even so, many fans will eagerly welcome back their beloved sleuth and enjoy seeing Harriet hold her own in a thoughtfully constructed mystery.

Pub Date: June 17, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-250-03279-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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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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THE MIDNIGHT CLUB

Patterson's thrillers (Virgin, 1980; Black Market, 1986) have plummeted in quality since his promising debut in The Thomas Berryman Number (1976)—with this latest being the sorriest yet: a clanky and witless policer about a criminal mastermind and the cop sworn to take him down. Aside from watching sympathetic homicide dick John ("Stef") Stefanovich comeing to terms with a wheelchair-bound life—legacy of a shotgun blast to the back by drug-and-gun-running archfiend Alexandre St.-Germain—the major interest here lies in marvelling at the author's trashing of fiction convention. The whopper comes early: although St.-Germain is explicity described as being machine-gunned to death by three vigilante cops in a swank brothel (". . .a submachine gun blast nearly ripped off the head of Alexandre St.-Germain"; "The mobster's head and most of his neck had been savaged by the machine-gun volley. The body looked desecrated. . ."), before you know it this latter-day Moriarty is stepping unscathed out of an airplane. What gives? Authorial cheating, that's what—thinly glossed over with some mumbling later on about a "body double." Not that St.-Germain's ersatz death generated much suspense anyway, with subsequent action focusing on, among other items, the gory killings of assorted mob bosses by one of the vigilante cops, and Stef's viewing of pornographic tapes confiscated from that brothel. But readers generous enough to plod on will get to read about the newly Lazarus-ized St.-Germain's crass efforts to revitalize and consolidate the world's crime syndicates ("the Midnight Club"), Stef's predictable tumble for a sexy true-crime writer, and how (isn't one miracle enough for Patterson?) at book's end Stef walks again and gets to embrace a rogue cop who's murdered several people. Ironsides with a badge and a lobotomy.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 1988

ISBN: 0446676411

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1988

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