Sandford keeps every stage of the investigation clear, compelling and suspenseful while peeling back layer after layer of a...

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SILKEN PREY

Dirty political tricksters give Lucas Davenport his most satisfying case in years.

Even though he’s a conservative Republican, Sen. Porter Smalls is widely known to be a lot more liberal in his sexual ethics. But not so liberal that you’d expect child pornography to pop up on his personal office computer. The horrified staffer who accidentally finds it there calls her father, and he calls 911. Minnesota governor Elmer Henderson, a Democrat, is no friend of Smalls, but he’s impressed by his claims of innocence, and he doesn’t want any blowback if the kiddie porn turns out to have been planted. So he calls Lucas Davenport, asking him to investigate but keep everything confidential. The hush-hush first phase of the case ends when Lucas finds evidence linking the porn stash to Bob Tubbs, a political jack-of-all-trades who’s disappeared and hasn’t used his credit cards for days. Given the cover of a homicide investigation, Lucas’ Bureau of Criminal Apprehension takes the case public, solving one problem—how can Lucas talk to anybody if he’s sworn to secrecy?—but raising another. For the trail leads to some very awkward spots: the Minneapolis Police Department, from which it’s pretty clear the damning pictures came, and the campaign of Taryn Grant, the wealthy, well-connected heiress who wants Smalls' Senate seat. With the election less than a week away, Lucas is under intense pressure to get results without stepping on the feet of Grant, who Sandford (Stolen Prey, 2012, etc.) indicates early on is indeed in this mess up to her eyeballs. Meanwhile, another Sandford veteran to whom Lucas turns for help hatches a plot to steal Grant’s jewels from the safe in her home. Complications ensue.

Sandford keeps every stage of the investigation clear, compelling and suspenseful while peeling back layer after layer of a world in which “everybody was hot, everybody was rich."

Pub Date: May 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-15931-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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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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