This novel is powered by a focus on highly detailed police-procedural elements but lacks significant emotional connectivity.

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BLOOD ORBIT

A smooth blend of science fiction and police procedural, this novel is set on the corporate-owned planet of Gattis and revolves around an idealistic young cop and a cybernetically enhanced inspector faced with solving a mass murder that, if left unresolved, could trigger a bloody revolution.

Eric Matheson is a rookie patrolman fresh out of the academy who has been on Gattis for less than a month when he and his partner stumble across a brutal murder scene in a ghetto of one of the “tourist-trap” planet’s most popular cities. Sixteen people are dead—all Dreihleen—and evidence indicates that the killer may be Ohba. Both races are native to the planet, and both sides feel like they’ve been systematically oppressed and disenfranchised for generations by the corporate leaders who run the world’s economy. When Matheson’s injured partner is replaced with Chief Investigating Forensic Officer J.P. Dillal—a half Dreihleen inspector whose capabilities have been enhanced with cutting-edge tech that has been integrated into his flesh—Matheson quickly realizes more than a few powerful factions are actively seeking to close the case, regardless of who is really behind the killings. The unlikely duo begins uncovering a conspiracy that could have grand-scale implications. While the police procedural aspect of the story is methodical and adeptly plotted, the narrative suffers from some major flaws: Matheson is woefully two-dimensional, the worldbuilding is superficial at best, the pacing drags in spots, and the tension level is conspicuously low throughout. But despite the flaws, Richardson (Revenant, 2014, etc., under the name Kat Richardson) has created a foundation filled with potential, both narratively and thematically: an exotic planet fueled by corporate greed and the oppression of its native races.

This novel is powered by a focus on highly detailed police-procedural elements but lacks significant emotional connectivity.

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63388-439-7

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Pyr/Prometheus Books

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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