Though nobody reads Sweazy for challenging, well-clued mysteries, this is his best-plotted yet. Mostly, however, it’s a...

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Looks like Marjorie Trumaine will have to put aside her indexing duties for a third time to deal with a pair of crimes that traumatize little Dickinson, North Dakota, even more deeply than herself.

Still unwilling to leave her farmhouse three months after her husband, Hank, succumbed to the wounds he’d received in a hunting accident, Marjorie (See Also Deception, 2016, etc.) is roused from her isolation not by Darlys Oddsdatter, who presses her to join Ladies Aid, but by the disappearance of Tina Rinkerman, a teenager with Down syndrome (the locals describe it in much harsher language in 1965) who couldn’t possibly last long on her own in the January cold. Determined to join the search for the girl, Marjorie is riding with acting sheriff Guy Reinhardt, the former deputy who narrowly defeated his predecessor, Duke Parsons, in the last election, when the two of them discover not Tina, but Nils Jacobsen, manager of the Red Owl grocery store, shot to death in his car. The suspects technically include pretty much every soul in Dickinson, but neither Guy nor Marjorie can imagine why any of them would have wanted to kill Nils. Even though Marjorie thinks she glimpsed Tina in a black car that passed her in a blinding snowstorm, the girl continues to be missing. So Guy, who has good reason to distrust many of the locals, sends Marjorie to the real-life Grafton State School, five hours away, where Tina spent most of her life, to pick up documents concerning her stay there. The bulky envelopes entrusted to Marjorie provide a motive for Nils’ murder, link the two cases, and put Marjorie’s life in danger.

Though nobody reads Sweazy for challenging, well-clued mysteries, this is his best-plotted yet. Mostly, however, it’s a sensitive dramatization of both the value and the sometimes-high cost of being a good neighbor.

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63388-279-9

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Seventh Street Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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