It's easy to see why this series is so popular, blending as it does the hard-boiled social observations of noir fiction with...

READ REVIEW

WHITE RIVER BURNING

Once again, the bucolic upstate retirement of NYPD homicide ace Dave Gurney is disrupted by a grisly murder spree.

In the sixth installment of this series of mystery-thrillers by ex-adman Verdon (Wolf Lake, 2016, etc.), the specter of racial tension comes to roost near the woodsy farmhouse in Walnut Crossing, New York, that Gurney and his wife call home. A petty-minded district attorney with big-ticket ambitions wants Gurney to look into the shooting death of a police officer in the nearby town of White River. Because the officer was white and the incident took place at a demonstration marking the one-year anniversary of a police shooting of an unarmed black motorist, Gurney must deploy all his urbane discretion, implacable concentration, and innate logic to work his way through thickets of bad faith and ill will. Much of the latter comes from White River’s belligerent police chief, who is eager to pin the murder of his patrolman on two leaders of the demonstration’s organizer, the Black Defense Alliance. But that scenario sinks when those two suspects are found naked, branded, and beaten to death on a local playground. From that point forward, nothing remains certain in Gurney’s inquiry as more bodies pile up, each of them disposed more brutally—and diabolically. With the determination and craftiness that in his previous life won him the “supercop” designation, Gurney methodically tries to connect each murder to the other. All he can count on for reliable backup are cool-headed White River policeman Mark Torres and short-fused but bombastically-effective private investigator Jack Hardwick, a holdover from previous novels. And there’s his forbearing wife, Madeleine, who at one point deep into the investigation observes of her husband: “You’re good at assembling bits of information and seeing a pattern in them. But I think sometimes you enjoy the intellectual process so much you don’t like to rush it.” That could also be said of Gurney’s creator, whose systematic approach to his material may tempt his readers to feel the need to push things along at times.

It's easy to see why this series is so popular, blending as it does the hard-boiled social observations of noir fiction with the inscrutable pleasures of classic “whodunit” puzzle-solving.

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-64009-063-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

THE MIDNIGHT CLUB

Patterson's thrillers (Virgin, 1980; Black Market, 1986) have plummeted in quality since his promising debut in The Thomas Berryman Number (1976)—with this latest being the sorriest yet: a clanky and witless policer about a criminal mastermind and the cop sworn to take him down. Aside from watching sympathetic homicide dick John ("Stef") Stefanovich comeing to terms with a wheelchair-bound life—legacy of a shotgun blast to the back by drug-and-gun-running archfiend Alexandre St.-Germain—the major interest here lies in marvelling at the author's trashing of fiction convention. The whopper comes early: although St.-Germain is explicity described as being machine-gunned to death by three vigilante cops in a swank brothel (". . .a submachine gun blast nearly ripped off the head of Alexandre St.-Germain"; "The mobster's head and most of his neck had been savaged by the machine-gun volley. The body looked desecrated. . ."), before you know it this latter-day Moriarty is stepping unscathed out of an airplane. What gives? Authorial cheating, that's what—thinly glossed over with some mumbling later on about a "body double." Not that St.-Germain's ersatz death generated much suspense anyway, with subsequent action focusing on, among other items, the gory killings of assorted mob bosses by one of the vigilante cops, and Stef's viewing of pornographic tapes confiscated from that brothel. But readers generous enough to plod on will get to read about the newly Lazarus-ized St.-Germain's crass efforts to revitalize and consolidate the world's crime syndicates ("the Midnight Club"), Stef's predictable tumble for a sexy true-crime writer, and how (isn't one miracle enough for Patterson?) at book's end Stef walks again and gets to embrace a rogue cop who's murdered several people. Ironsides with a badge and a lobotomy.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 1988

ISBN: 0446676411

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1988

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more