Block out time to read this page-turner at a single sitting.


A murder and a kidnapping put tremendous pressure on a formerly Amish police officer.

Mary Yoder and two of her grandchildren are picking walnuts at a deserted homestead when Mary is brutally murdered by someone who also abducts her 7-year-old granddaughter, Elsie Helmuth. Painters Mill police chief Kate Burkholder is on patrol when a panicked Amish girl, who looks about 5, comes running toward her, "vibrating all over...mewling sounds tearing from a throat that's gone hoarse," screaming that Da Deivel has hurt her Grossmammi. Mary lived with her daughter and son-in-law Miriam and Ivan Helmuth, and the missing child is one of their eight. A massive search is instituted after the traumatized Annie Helmuth describes the killer as a very large Amish man with brown hair. Kate checks out the few obvious suspects in the generally nonviolent community, including several sex offenders, but finds no reason for the crime until one of the Helmuth children mentions that "Mamm says Elsie was a gift," and "Bishop Troyer brought her," helping Kate put together several telltale facts. Elsie was the only Helmuth child not delivered by midwife Martha Hershberger. She’s a brown-haired, brown-eyed child whose siblings are all green-eyed strawberry blonds. And two of the Helmuth girls are 7 years old. After tracking down birth certificates, Kate realizes Elsie isn’t the Helmuths’ biological child, and a distraught Miriam breaks down and admits the child was indeed brought to them by Bishop Troyer and a midwife and bishop from Scioto County. Kate, who grew up Amish before leaving the community, is aghast that Troyer would have anything to do with an illegal child placement. Following up the lead, Kate learns that the Scioto bishop was killed in a supposed hit-and-run. The midwife is murdered after Kate’s first visit. Kate herself is lucky to escape when she’s attacked by the killer. Bible verses left at the scenes that suggest someone seeking revenge leave Kate with still more trails to follow. Once again, the queen of Amish mysteries (A Gathering of Secrets, 2018, etc.) uses past events to drive her story.

Block out time to read this page-turner at a single sitting.

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-14286-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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After a flight in fantasy with When the Wind Blows (1998), Patterson goes to ground with another slash-and-squirm psychokiller page-turner, this one dedicated to “the millions of Alex Cross readers, who so frequently ask, can’t you write faster?” By day, Geoffrey Shafer is a charming, 42-year-old British Embassy paper-pusher with a picture-perfect family and a shady past as an MI-6 secret agent. Come sundown, he swallows a pharmacy of psychoactive pills, gulps three black coffees loaded with sugar, and roams the streets of Washington, D.C., in a battered cab, where, disguised as a black man, he rolls dice to determine which among his black female fares he—ll murder. Afterwards he dumps his naked victims in crime-infested back alleys of black- slum neighborhoods, then sends e-mails boasting of his accomplishments to three other former MI-6 agents involved in a hellish Internet role-playing game. “I sensed I was at the start of another homicide mess,” sighs forensic-psychologist turned homicide-detective Alex Cross. Cross yearns to catch the “Jane Doe murderer” but is thwarted by Det. Chief George Pittman, who assigns sexy Det. Patsy Hampton to investigate Cross and come up with a reason for dismissing him. Meanwhile, Cross’s fiancÇe is kidnaped during a Bermuda vacation, and an anonymous e-mail warns him to back off. He doesn’t, of course, and just when it appears that Patterson is sleep-walking through his story, Cross nabs Shafer minutes after Shafer kills Det. Hampton. During the subsequent high-visibility trail, Shafer manages to make the jury believe that he’s innocent and that Cross was trying to frame him. When all seems lost, a sympathetic British intelligence chief offers to help Cross bring down Shafer, and the other homicidal game-players, during a showdown on the breezy beaches of Jamaica. Kinky mayhem, a cartoonish villain, regular glimpses of the kindly Cross caring for his loved ones, and an ending that spells a sequel: Patterson’s fans couldn’t ask for more.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-69328-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1999

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