Minor blemishes aside, this puppy tells a waggly tale the reader is happy to follow down the roughest paths.

READ REVIEW

RUSTY PUPPY

A woman's plea to find her son's murderer sets the stage for the latest Hap and Leonard mystery.

When an older black woman engages Hap and Leonard to find out who murdered her son, her plea for them to take her case ends with a bombshell: she believes that the local police are the killers. Not surprisingly, Hap and Leonard soon run afoul of the corrupt police ruling over a scruffy Texas town. But considering the two have a talent for stirring up trouble, they also incur the enmity of a group of bad-news project kids, some local drug dealers, the operators of an illegal fight club, a corrupt lawyer, and generally everyone they run into. The best of the supporting characters is named Reba, a young black girl whom Leonard refers to as a vampire midget and whose dialogue is a consistently delightful work of foulmouthed art. (Imagine Wanda Sykes in Our Gang as directed and written by Quentin Tarantino.) The pleasure of any Hap and Leonard mystery is the yin-yang of the two heroes: white/black, straight/gay, liberal/conservative, easygoing/hair-trigger temper. Without making any brotherhood speeches, the books are rough-hewn fables of tolerance in action. Part of the reason it all goes down without any kind of "Kumbaya" ickiness is that Lansdale (Honky Tonk Samurai, 2016, etc.) writes such good smart-ass repartee. He also, though, in book after book, reaches a point where he takes the violence too far and breaks faith with the reader (it was a problem in the first season of the Hap and Leonard TV series as well), including here a rape dealt out to a character we've become fond of and a final brutal fistfight that goes on for too long.

Minor blemishes aside, this puppy tells a waggly tale the reader is happy to follow down the roughest paths.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-31156-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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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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