Chapman’s second entry positions her well in the world of village-life detection, with just enough puzzle, just enough...

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DATE WITH MALICE

A local lad returns to Yorkshire to investigate threats to his clients, human and ovine.

On leave from the London police, Samson O’Brien (Date with Death, 2017) wants to make a go of Dales Detective Agency in his native Bruncliffe. He’s eager to help Clive Knowles of Mire End Farm find his lost Ralph, at least until Samson discovers that Ralph is a ram. But he’s not sure that he prefers Alice Shepherd as a potential client. Although Mrs. Shepherd is incontrovertibly human, her mind isn’t what it used to be. And her complaints of dark doings at Fellside Court retirement complex—missing scarves, stolen cufflinks, and a shadowy figure who stalks the halls at night—seem at least as likely due to incipient dementia as to any actual threat to the elderly residents. Samson changes his mind when Mrs. Shepherd suddenly dies. Although Alice had high blood pressure and the coroner declines to do a post-mortem, Samson fears she may have been right in her suspicions. With the support of his spirited young landlady, Delilah Metcalfe, whose Dales Dating Agency shares an office building with his, Samson begins to question the other Fellside residents, starting with his own father. When Joseph O’Brien sold his farm to local developer Rick Procter—for far less than its true value, in Samson’s opinion—Joseph received a small apartment at Fellside as part of his payment. So it’s only natural for Samson to step up the pace of his filial visits and take the opportunity to chat with his pa’s neighbors, too. Samson’s latest case moves along nicely the tale of the black sheep of Bruncliffe returned home to make amends to his former neighbors, especially the Metcalfe clan.

Chapman’s second entry positions her well in the world of village-life detection, with just enough puzzle, just enough romance, and more than its share of wacky villagers.

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-10938-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 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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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

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