An often gripping, blood-drenched page-turner.

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I DETEST ALL MY SINS

An ex-prisoner tries to hunt down his friend’s killer in this noir thriller by Larcinese (Women, 2018).

The novel opens in the yard of Graterford prison, about an hour outside Philadelphia. Rubber bullets rip through the air; prisoner Mikey Osborne has just been stabbed in the jugular. Thirty yards away, his friend and fellow prisoner Bill Conlon lies helpless with a string of rosaries “fashioned from raisins and thread unwound from a sock” clutched in his hand. (He’s known as “the priest” by the other prisoners whom he’s counseled over the years.) Eight months later, Bill is released and he’s determined to find out who killed Mikey. He suspects that the killer was the recently released Deadly Eddie Matthews. Although he “would rather eat a plateful of maggots than pal around with Eddie,” he needs to get close to him to get a confession. It proves to be a dangerous game. The narrative centers on a dive bar, Dirty Frank’s, which plays host to a rogues’ gallery of Philadelphia’s underworld. Bill starts to develop a rapport with bartender Louise Bearden, a no-nonsense woman who’s a former roller derby skater, but it turns out that Deadly Eddie has deadly plans for her. This is an immersive thriller, and Larcinese creates a believable world of intricately detailed characters—although readers may find them difficult to root for. Bill, for example, is a former teacher who served time for the statutory rape of a 15-year-old high school student. Deadly Eddie is utterly abhorrent, but Larcinese take pains to show that the villain had a violent upbringing that led him to kill his father: “his old man…beat his beloved mother half senseless, then did things like grab her by the hair and hold her sobbing, brutalized face up for Eddie to see and say, ‘See?’ ” (A detective character, Sam Lanza, could have played a more prominent role, however.) The author is also unafraid to deliver sudden, blood-splattered imagery. Overall, this is a satisfyingly dark thriller, and there’s an appealing neatness to the author’s careful psychological studies. 

An often gripping, blood-drenched page-turner.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-940758-80-0

Page Count: 254

Publisher: Intrigue Publishing LLC

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

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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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