In spite of a few scenes that stop the novel in its tracks by explaining complicated details about banking and computer...

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THE ABSOLUTION

In the final book of the Carnivia Trilogy, named after the anonymous virtual world created by disfigured genius Daniele Barbo, American intelligence analyst Holly Boland and Italian cop Kat Tapo reunite to investigate dark government conspiracies.

Heading up her first murder case, in which the body of a Catholic bank executive is discovered on the shore of Lido Beach with his severed tongue placed next to his head and a weird mask placed on his face, Kat concludes the victim was subjected to a ritualistic Masonic punishment. Having stumbled on the possibility that someone caused the stroke suffered by her now-uncommunicative father, Holly has reason to probe the secret society as well. A former Army major, her old man had discovered that in the 1990s, hiding under the cover of Masonic fraternities, a clandestine NATO operation had trained a secret army of Italian civilians to fight a possible communist invasion. What the major doesn't know is that the CIA had infiltrated this network and was using small groups inside it to carry out its own politically motivated violent acts. And the Vatican was connected to these schemes as well. Meanwhile, Tareq, a brilliant, alienated young hacker of Libyan origins, takes the jihadi fight to the Internet. Barbo must find a way to stop Tareq from poisoning his website. Carnivia, the ingenuity and charm of which lent distinction to the first book in the trilogy, is less visible in the finale. But Holt's storytelling is much tighter and more controlled, and the characters are more believable.

In spite of a few scenes that stop the novel in its tracks by explaining complicated details about banking and computer viruses through dialogue, Holt's finale has more than enough rapid-pulse action—and compelling insight into Italy–U.S. relations—to keep the pages turning.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-226707-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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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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