DIE TRYING

From the Jack Reacher series , Vol. 2

Furiously suspenseful, but brain-dead second volume in Child’s gratuitously derivative Jack Reacher action series (Killing Floor, 1997). Reacher, a former Army Military Police Major, has now moved on to Chicago, where he gallantly assists a beautiful mystery woman hobbling on a crutch with her dry cleaning. Seconds later, Reacher and the woman, FBI agent Holly Johnson (also daughter of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as goddaughter of the President), are kidnaped by armed gunmen. Handcuffed together and tossed in the back of a van, the two are taken to the Montana mountain stronghold of Beau Borken, a fat, ugly, psychopathically vicious neo-Nazi militia leader given to sawing the arms off day laborers and making windy speeches about how he brilliant he is. Of course, the kidnappers don’t know that they have a former military police major in their clutches who, in addition to having a Silver Star for heroism, is one of the best snipers the Army has ever produced, can pull iron rings out of barn doors, and kill bad guys with lit cigarettes. Meanwhile, a team of FBI agents, at least one of whom is a mole leaking information to Borken, identify Reacher from a reconstructed photo taken from the dry cleaner’s surveillance camera. Borken, impressed with Reacher’s military record, lectures him about his brilliant plan to overthrow the US using a hijacked Army missile unit, with Holly held as a hostage in a specially constructed, dynamite-lined prison cell. Borken stupidly lets Reacher best him in a shooting match, then grandiosely turns his back on his captives enough times for Reacher and Holly to escape, cause havoc, get captured, escape, make love in the woods, cause more havoc, and get captured again, as General Johnson, FBI Director Harlan Webster, and General Garber, Reacher’s former commander, plan a covert strike on Borken’s fortress that’s certain to fail. Another Rogue Warrior meets Die Hard with all the typical over-the-top plotting, blood-splattering ultraviolence, lock-jawed heroics and the dumbest villains this side of Ruby Ridge.

Pub Date: July 20, 1998

ISBN: 0-399-14379-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1998

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

BADLANDS

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...

Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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