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FIELD OF PREY

Like so many of Lucas’ cases, his 26th is routine but proficient and intense. If it doesn’t add anything new to the genre,...

Lucas Davenport’s latest case involves at least 15 women who were raped and strangled. Maybe more.

Years after Heather Jorgenson, the fifth intended victim of a murderous rapist, escaped thanks to her Leatherman knife, a pair of high school kids searching for a remote location for a tryst makes a horrifying discovery which indicates that an awful lot of women were less lucky. A cistern near Sally James’ farm is filled with 15 items immediately identifiable as skulls and so much undifferentiated organic matter that it’s anybody’s guess how many victims were dumped there—let alone who they were. Methodical, unspectacular Bob Shaffer, of Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, is put in charge of the case, and his patient collection and sifting of facts indicates that Mary Lynn Carpenter, a candy-store owner who vanished two weeks ago, was the latest in a string of murders that may stretch back 20 years. When an uncharacteristic episode of solo snooping abruptly ends Shaffer’s involvement with the case, Lucas (Silken Prey, 2013, etc.) is on hand to take over. Working with Goodhue County deputy Catrin Mattsson, he reaches the pivotal conclusion that the rapist is actually two men working together, even though one of them, ex-dogcatcher Jack Horn, seems to have died years ago. Unfortunately, this intelligence comes too late to prevent the abduction of Catrin herself, who’s put through the same nightmare as all those other women while Lucas is off in Texas seeing what he can do for his close BCA friend Del Capslock, who was shot in a drug bust gone wrong.

Like so many of Lucas’ cases, his 26th is routine but proficient and intense. If it doesn’t add anything new to the genre, it provides all the thrills fans will expect.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-16238-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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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DARK MATTER

Suspenseful, frightening, and sometimes poignant—provided the reader has a generously willing suspension of disbelief.

A man walks out of a bar and his life becomes a kaleidoscope of altered states in this science-fiction thriller.

Crouch opens on a family in a warm, resonant domestic moment with three well-developed characters. At home in Chicago’s Logan Square, Jason Dessen dices an onion while his wife, Daniela, sips wine and chats on the phone. Their son, Charlie, an appealing 15-year-old, sketches on a pad. Still, an undertone of regret hovers over the couple, a preoccupation with roads not taken, a theme the book will literally explore, in multifarious ways. To start, both Jason and Daniela abandoned careers that might have soared, Jason as a physicist, Daniela as an artist. When Charlie was born, he suffered a major illness. Jason was forced to abandon promising research to teach undergraduates at a small college. Daniela turned from having gallery shows to teaching private art lessons to middle school students. On this bracing October evening, Jason visits a local bar to pay homage to Ryan Holder, a former college roommate who just received a major award for his work in neuroscience, an honor that rankles Jason, who, Ryan says, gave up on his career. Smarting from the comment, Jason suffers “a sucker punch” as he heads home that leaves him “standing on the precipice.” From behind Jason, a man with a “ghost white” face, “red, pursed lips," and "horrifying eyes” points a gun at Jason and forces him to drive an SUV, following preset navigational directions. At their destination, the abductor forces Jason to strip naked, beats him, then leads him into a vast, abandoned power plant. Here, Jason meets men and women who insist they want to help him. Attempting to escape, Jason opens a door that leads him into a series of dark, strange, yet eerily familiar encounters that sometimes strain credibility, especially in the tale's final moments.

Suspenseful, frightening, and sometimes poignant—provided the reader has a generously willing suspension of disbelief.

Pub Date: July 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-90422-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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