A DARKER PLACE

Eighteen years after losing her husband and daughter to a mass suicide in a Texas cult, an expert on religious sects agrees to goes undercover one more time to infiltrate a particularly insidious community. Prof. Anne Waverly seems a natural for the assignment. Her knowledge of the relations between contemporary modes of spiritual expression and such historic sects as the early Christians is second to none. Since taking a teaching post at Duncan Point University, she’s already taken academic leave four times to infiltrate similar cults, saving the lives of children who otherwise might have become hostages or fatalities. And she has a long working relationship with FBI agent Glen McCarthy. In her own way, though, Anne is as painfully driven as any modern messiah. She’s racked with guilt over having abandoned her family, and perhaps precipitated the panic that took their lives, by her departure from that Texas cult so long ago. Her undercover work, taken on as a penance for her losses, has aged her and sapped her strength, and her intermittently scalding love/hate affair with McCarthy has left her exhausted. The moment she makes contact with the first members of the Sedona, Arizona, branch of the Change—especially with teenaged artist/basketball player Jason Delgado and his younger sister Dulcie—Anne’s strengths and weaknesses collide with the force of a supernova. More than half in love with the boy-man Jason and suffocatingly unable to deal with Dulcie without seeing a twin of her dead daughter, she rises swiftly through the ranks into spiritual leader Steven Change’s confidence—and thence to a dangerous posting at the British branch of the Change, far beyond her promised support and her sense of her competence. King, whose Sherlock Holmes pastiches (The Moor, 1998, etc.) make it clear that she never takes up a familiar form without making it her own, produces an undercover thriller notable for its intensity, its psychological nuance, and its avoidance of the most obvious action-movie clichÇ’s of the genre. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 1999

ISBN: 0-553-10711-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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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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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

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THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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