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A seen-it-all Miami crime reporter, Matthew Cowart, reopens the case of an inmate waiting on backwoods Florida's death row to be executed for the sex murder of young Joanie Shriver and succeeds in overturning his conviction—only to have his own worst nightmares come true. The convicted killer—a sharp black college student named Robert Earl Ferguson—not only tells Cowart the grounds on which he ought to be sprung (a confession was beaten out of him by local officers Tanny Brown and Bruce Wilcox; his elderly court-appointed lawyer never called his grandmother to give him an alibi; a key witness was told he'd been arrested before she was asked to identify his car), but he also gives Cowart the name of the real killer: hated fellow inmate Blair Sullivan, slated for execution for his own killing spree. And Sullivan (who's obviously spent some time with The Silence of the Lambs) toys with Cowart in several creepy scenes before revealing to him the location of the murder weapon in the Shriver case, and then, on the eve of Ferguson's hearing, sends a letter to the girl's parents exulting in the killing. Sensation: Ferguson is released; Cowart wins a Pulitzer; and Sullivan, one more murder to his credit, goes to the chair—but not before a pair of new murders suggest that Ferguson and Sullivan may have cooked up the whole scheme between them. From here on in it's familiar territory for psycho-baiter Katzenbach (The Traveler, 1987; Day of Reckoning, 1989, etc.), as Cowart closes ranks with Tanny Brown and rookie Keys Det. Andrea Shaeffer (hot on Cowart's tail to find out what he knows about those last two murders) to smoke out Ferguson from his lair in Newark before his next lecture/killing tour of the Florida panhandle. So grossly overextended that you'll see every twist coming pages away—but Katzenbach does keep the suspense mounting from the gloomy opening to the cartoonish denouement.

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Pub Date: Feb. 6, 1992

ISBN: 0-399-13626-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1991

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...

Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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