An artfully rendered amalgam of history and fictional inventiveness.

READ REVIEW

A Murder at Armageddon

A JUDAS THOMAS MYSTERY

From the The Judas Thomas Mysteries series , Vol. 1

A murder mystery set in an ancient Israel distempered by political conflict.

Shemuel ben Yahayye, a scribe in his advanced years, has been found murdered, discovered by, among others, one of his students, Yehuda. The murder itself would not normally be considered unusual—he was found in an area known to be dangerous—but nomadic bandits would surely have taken his valuables. Both aggrieved and suspicious, Yehuda takes it upon himself to investigate Shemuel’s death, with assistance from his young bodyguard, Ioannis Vivis. Yehuda remembers a letter he recently received from Shemuel, only notable for the strange message it contained inside: “Learn what eye has not seen and what ear has not heard.” Shemuel also inserted the same message into an old manuscript he asked Yehuda to track down. Partly on the basis of a mystical vision, Yehuda comes to believe that Shemuel was cryptically pointing toward the existence of treasure buried beneath a temple, treasure that could be used to fund a revolution against Roman occupation of their lands. Also, the more Yehuda discovers, the more he comes to believe that Shemuel was much more than a religious personage or scholar; he may also have been a member of an underground rebellion intent on throwing off the yoke of political oppression. The author of many books, Chisti (The Sufi Book of Life, 2005, etc.) is a religious scholar whose erudition is evidenced on every page. He paints a vivid picture of a Jerusalem rife with political and cultural discord, struggling to maintain its historical identity under the boot of tyranny. The consequences of that internal conflict are deftly personified by half Roman, half Israelite Ioannis, who has also suffered greatly at the hands of the Romans, relegated to slavery as punishment for his father’s political allegiances. The mystery itself is gripping enough—unfurling slowly, tantalizingly—but the history provided as a backdrop to the fictional narrative is mesmerizingly real.

An artfully rendered amalgam of history and fictional inventiveness.

Pub Date: June 19, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4818-7097-9

Page Count: 338

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2015

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