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 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019


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


As in summer movies, a triple dose of violence conceals the absence of real menace when neither victims nor avengers stir...

Dr. Alex Cross has left Metro DC Homicide for the FBI, but it’s business as usual in this laughably rough-hewn fairy tale of modern-day white slavery.

According to reliable sources, more people are being sold into slavery than ever before, and it all seems to be going down on the FBI’s watch. Atlanta ex-reporter Elizabeth Connolly, who looks just like Claudia Schiffer, is the ninth target over the past two years to be abducted by a husband-and-wife pair who travel the country at the behest of the nefarious Pasha Sorokin, the Wolf of the Red Mafiya. The only clues are those deliberately left behind by the kidnappers, who snatch fashion designer Audrey Meek from the King of Prussia Mall in full view of her children, or patrons like Audrey’s purchaser, who ends up releasing her and killing himself. Who you gonna call? Alex Cross, of course. Even though he still hasn’t finished the Agency’s training course, all the higher-ups he runs into, from hardcases who trust him to lickspittles seething with envy, have obviously read his dossier (Four Blind Mice, 2002, etc.), and they know the new guy is “close to psychic,” a “one-man flying squad” who’s already a legend, “like Clarice Starling in the movies.” It’s lucky that Cross’s reputation precedes him, because his fond creator doesn’t give him much to do here but chase suspects identified by obliging tipsters and worry about his family (Alex Jr.’s mother, alarmed at Cross’s dangerous job, is suing for custody) while the Wolf and his cronies—Sterling, Mr. Potter, the Art Director, Sphinx, and the Marvel—kidnap more dishy women (and the occasional gay man) and kill everybody who gets in their way, and quite a few poor souls who don’t.

As in summer movies, a triple dose of violence conceals the absence of real menace when neither victims nor avengers stir the slightest sympathy.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2003

ISBN: 0-316-60290-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2003

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