Despite its epic length, Higashino keeps his world remarkably claustrophobic, scattering just enough references to movies,...

UNDER THE MIDNIGHT SUN

Higashino leaves behind the increasingly weighty cases of Detective Galileo (A Midsummer’s Equation, 2016, etc.) for an even more daunting stand-alone that traces the fallout of an unsolved murder through nearly two decades.

Yosuke Kirihara is found in an abandoned building a kilometer away from the Osaka home that doubled as his pawnshop, stabbed five times. His wife, Yaeko, would be the obvious suspect even if she weren’t a former escort a generation younger than her husband, but Detective Junzo Sasagaki can find no evidence against her. He focuses instead on Fumiyo Nishimoto, a customer whose home in Yoshida Heights Kirihara had visited shortly before his death, but Fumiyo provides an alibi—though Tadao Terasaki, the lover who provides it, is killed in a car crash—and the case fades away. So, for quite a while, does Sasagaki; instead, Higashino follows the lives of two children involved in the case, Kirihara’s 10-year-old son, Ryo, and his customer’s young daughter, Yukiho. As they make their ways through adolescence and into adulthood, corruption begins slowly and steadily to take its toll on Ryo and Yukiho. He drifts into a life of pimping his male school friends and stealing computer-game software before it can be copyrighted; she’s adopted by elegant Reiko Karasawa when her mother dies and, blossoming into fatal beauty, drifts through a series of fraught friendships and romances, one of which ends in an equally fraught marriage. All the while, Sasagaki, his efforts supplemented by those of private investigator Satoshi Imaeda, keeps an unobtrusive eye on the two surviving children, preparing to close the case, though many readers will long since have anticipated his unsparing climactic revelations.

Despite its epic length, Higashino keeps his world remarkably claustrophobic, scattering just enough references to movies, current events, and first-generation home computers to let you know where the lead characters, aging but powerless to change, stand as the story rolls toward its bleakly preordained end.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-10579-0

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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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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POP GOES THE WEASEL

After a flight in fantasy with When the Wind Blows (1998), Patterson goes to ground with another slash-and-squirm psychokiller page-turner, this one dedicated to “the millions of Alex Cross readers, who so frequently ask, can’t you write faster?” By day, Geoffrey Shafer is a charming, 42-year-old British Embassy paper-pusher with a picture-perfect family and a shady past as an MI-6 secret agent. Come sundown, he swallows a pharmacy of psychoactive pills, gulps three black coffees loaded with sugar, and roams the streets of Washington, D.C., in a battered cab, where, disguised as a black man, he rolls dice to determine which among his black female fares he—ll murder. Afterwards he dumps his naked victims in crime-infested back alleys of black- slum neighborhoods, then sends e-mails boasting of his accomplishments to three other former MI-6 agents involved in a hellish Internet role-playing game. “I sensed I was at the start of another homicide mess,” sighs forensic-psychologist turned homicide-detective Alex Cross. Cross yearns to catch the “Jane Doe murderer” but is thwarted by Det. Chief George Pittman, who assigns sexy Det. Patsy Hampton to investigate Cross and come up with a reason for dismissing him. Meanwhile, Cross’s fiancÇe is kidnaped during a Bermuda vacation, and an anonymous e-mail warns him to back off. He doesn’t, of course, and just when it appears that Patterson is sleep-walking through his story, Cross nabs Shafer minutes after Shafer kills Det. Hampton. During the subsequent high-visibility trail, Shafer manages to make the jury believe that he’s innocent and that Cross was trying to frame him. When all seems lost, a sympathetic British intelligence chief offers to help Cross bring down Shafer, and the other homicidal game-players, during a showdown on the breezy beaches of Jamaica. Kinky mayhem, a cartoonish villain, regular glimpses of the kindly Cross caring for his loved ones, and an ending that spells a sequel: Patterson’s fans couldn’t ask for more.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-69328-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1999

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