Marion’s constant shuttling between different time periods may intensify her heroine’s anxiety, but it lends some heft and...

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HOUSE OF ASHES

A haunted house’s latest inhabitants go missing without a trace.

In a quest to keep Battersea Bluffs—a house in Cape Cod built by her family generations ago—from foreclosure, Cassie Mitchell decides to rent out a part of the property to a young couple who show up on her doorstep. A strong believer in fate, Cassie finally feels that she can quit fretting about her finances when Vince and Ashley Jacobson agree to help fix the rentable portion of the property in exchange for housing. Though Cassie is no social butterfly, she finds herself opening up to the sweet young couple, and her warmth is reciprocated even if her openness is not. One day on a picnic bike ride, Ashley and Vince disappear, and Cassie, desperately trying to piece together what happened, realizes how little she knows about the two. Marion (The Fools Truth, 2016) focuses on three time periods: the recent past of Cassie’s time with the couple, her present-day search, and the distant past of her family history and a curse that’s haunted the Mitchell clan for generations. Years ago, Robert Toomey cursed Percy Mitchell and his wife, Celeste, after Toomey’s promised marriage fell through, and generations of Mitchells have felt the effects of the spurned Toomey’s terror. Unlike her sister, Zoe, Cassie believes the spirits of Battersea Bluffs will help guide her to the truth. Pragmatic local police officer Brooks Kincaid, Zoe’s long-ago boyfriend, aims to help Cassie find her missing tenants, but his earnest efforts are pushed aside when savvy city FBI agent Daniel Benjamin takes an interest in the case. Cassie doesn’t care who helps her as long as Vince and Ashley return safely, but with Brooks wondering in her ear, she can’t help but suspect that the FBI’s involvement means there’s more at stake than her grandmother’s missing picnic basket.

Marion’s constant shuttling between different time periods may intensify her heroine’s anxiety, but it lends some heft and complexity to an otherwise straightforward search.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68331-843-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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