Another terrific addition to this winning medical thriller series starring an indefatigable physician.

ACT OF NEGLIGENCE

A DOC BRADY MYSTERY

An orthopedic surgeon and amateur sleuth investigates the mysterious deaths of a succession of nursing home residents.

Prolific Houston author Bishop continues his charming, addictively suspenseful mystery series with this fourth volume, which finds Dr. Jim Bob Brady uncovering evidence of lethal malpractice at a care facility. It has become a common practice for Pleasant View Nursing Home to refer its most infirm patients to University Hospital for evaluation, with most in their final days and too ill to survive the transfer. The latest patients are two aging women with Alzheimer’s disease referred to Brady by his colleague Dr. James Morgenstern. But upon examination, Brady discovers questionable cognitive abilities and a strange bone trauma. Brady’s sense of justice is alerted that something is indeed awry. The situation becomes especially dire when one woman dies inexplicably on the operating table, followed by other deaths that confound and horrify Brady and his colleagues. This becomes a distressing pattern, and after finding curious autopsy details on both the bodies and the physiology of the brains, Brady goes to the medical director at Pleasant View Nursing Home, Dr. Ted Frazier, for answers. In true form, Brady then digs deeper into the mystery by discreetly investigating the facility and its controversial, experimental brain tissue nerve regenerative treatments. Brady’s adventures in medical justice are reliably co-helmed by his longtime wife of 27 years, Mary Louise. As in previous volumes, she truly grounds her husband both emotionally and psychologically, guiding him toward resolutions he may not have embraced on his own. Key to Bishop’s series success is consistency in narrative technique, readable prose, and strong plotting. As the story progresses and Brady draws closer to the unethical inner machinations of the nursing home, the author is mindful to explain the often intriguing medical terminology in plain speech, together with the various challenges to contemporary medical ethics, ensuring that lay readers don’t get lost in the translation. Brady is at his investigatory best in this entry, even when his life hangs in the balance in the tale’s thrilling showdown, which pits him against the misguided and murderous culprit behind the baffling deaths.

Another terrific addition to this winning medical thriller series starring an indefatigable physician.

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73425-116-6

Page Count: 282

Publisher: Mantid Press

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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As attuned as always to current geopolitical concerns, but substantially less compelling than Silva's previous novels.

THE CELLIST

Gabriel Allon goes after the deadliest weapon at the Russian president’s disposal—his money.

When CIA agent–turned–art dealer Sarah Bancroft finds the dead body of Viktor Orlov, a wealthy newspaper publisher and Russian dissident, the grim discovery leads Gabriel Allon, the head of Israel’s intelligence service, to a treasure trove of documents detailing massive financial crimes. Once he tracks down the woman who leaked these documents, Gabriel may finally have the tools he needs to take down the autocrat in the Kremlin. “A nuclear bomb can only be dropped once. But money can be wielded every day with no fallout and no threat of mutually assured destruction.” This bit of wisdom comes from a Russian operative Gabriel captured in The Other Woman (2018), and Silva makes a persuasive case that the best way to neutralize the threat of troll farms and disinformation campaigns is to starve these operations of cash. But this is a thriller, not an essay in Foreign Policy. It turns out that money laundering isn’t inherently exciting, and Silva does little to make it so. Identifying the shadowy figure who manages the Russian president’s fortune is easy, as is infiltrating his world. All the characters in this universe are types, but most of them are crafted with verisimilitude sufficient to keep the reader engaged. The titular cellist, Isabel Brenner, is a beautiful blond blank. It’s not at all clear why she makes the transition from functionary at a dirty bank to amateur spy willing to risk her life to ruin oligarchs. In previous novels, Silva wove in chapters written from the points of view of the bad guys. This technique creates dramatic irony, and it has given us some truly terrific villains—horrifying sadists and gleeful monsters of corruption who make excellent foils for the nearly superhuman Gabriel. Past installments have also given Gabriel's team more to do, and it’s impossible not to miss them and their spycraft.

As attuned as always to current geopolitical concerns, but substantially less compelling than Silva's previous novels.

Pub Date: July 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-283486-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Eerie atmosphere isn’t enough to overcome an unsatisfying plot and sometimes-exasperating protagonist.

THE MAIDENS

A blend of psychological mystery and gothic thriller puts a psychotherapist in pursuit of a serial killer on the campus of Cambridge University.

The author’s second novel features a psychotherapist as its main character, as did his 2019 debut, The Silent Patient (whose main character makes an appearance here). This book’s protagonist is Mariana, who has a busy practice in London specializing in group therapy. At 36, she’s a widow, reeling from the drowning a year before of her beloved husband, Sebastian. She’s galvanized out of her fog by a call from her niece, Zoe, who was raised by Mariana and Sebastian after her parents died. Zoe is now studying at Cambridge, where Mariana and Sebastian met and courted. Zoe has terrible news: Her close friend Tara has been murdered, savagely stabbed and dumped in a wood. Mariana heads for Cambridge and, when the police arrest someone she thinks is innocent, starts her own investigation. She zeroes in on Edward Fosca, a handsome, charismatic classics professor who has a cultlike following of beautiful female students (which included Tara) called the Maidens, a reference to the cult of Eleusis in ancient Greece, whose followers worshipped Demeter and Persephone. Suspicious characters seem to be around every ivy-covered corner of the campus, though—an audacious young man Mariana meets on the train, one of her patients who has turned stalker, a porter at one of the college’s venerable houses, even the surly police inspector. The book gets off to a slow start, front-loaded with backstories and a Cambridge travelogue, but then picks up the pace and piles up the bodies. With its ambience of ritualistic murders, ancient myths, and the venerable college, the story is a gothic thriller despite its contemporary setting. That makes Mariana tough to get on board with—she behaves less like a modern professional woman than a 19th-century gothic heroine, a clueless woman who can be counted on in any situation to make the worst possible choice. And the book’s ending, while surprising, also feels unearned, like a bolt from the blue hurled by some demigod.

Eerie atmosphere isn’t enough to overcome an unsatisfying plot and sometimes-exasperating protagonist.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-30445-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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