Brooding, emotionally complex and powerful.

APPLE TREE YARD

Sex with an anonymous stranger blows apart a British scientist’s carefully ordered life in London resident Doughty’s seventh novel (Whatever You Love, 2010, etc.).

We know from the beginning that narrator Yvonne Carmichael is on trial, but we don’t know for what, and we don’t know why she reacts with panic when a barrister begins asking her about a London back alley called Apple Tree Yard. We learn its significance as she unfolds the story of her affair with a man who observes her testifying before a parliamentary committee, strikes up a conversation in the corridor and leads her to a secluded area where they have sex. She doesn’t even know his name, yet they continue having sex for months, most recklessly “in Picadilly, in the rush hour, with a thousand people hurrying by a few meters away”—in Apple Tree Yard, that is, just before Yvonne goes to a professional party where she gets drunk and is brutally raped by a colleague, George Craddock. She can’t tell the police, since a physical exam would find semen inside her not belonging to her assailant; she can’t tell her husband, Guy, “because too much was at stake, our home, our happiness, our children.” Yvonne still loves Guy and, until this affair, hadn’t quite realized how tired she was of their responsible, respectable union. So she tells her lover, who has hinted he works for MI5, and goes along with him when he promises to “frighten the living daylights out of [George].” This violent encounter sends them both to the dock, where she finally learns her lover’s name and the extent of his deceit and betrayal. But Yvonne is no helpless victim; her narration reveals anger and vengefulness, as well as vulnerability and fear. The slightly anticlimactic trial outcome isn’t as interesting as the adult ambiguities Doughty unravels in smooth, sinuous prose, leading to two shocking yet credible final revelations.

Brooding, emotionally complex and powerful.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-374-10567-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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This is fast-paced, nonstop fun. Cussler fans will gobble it up.

JOURNEY OF THE PHARAOHS

Rumors of lost Egyptian treasure spark high adventure in this 17th in the NUMA series featuring oceanographer Kurt Austin and his crew (Sea of Greed, 2018, etc.).

Over 3,000 years ago, grave robbers sail away with loot from a pharaoh’s tomb. In 1927, Jake Melbourne and his plane disappear in his attempt at a trans-Atlantic flight. In the present day, arms merchants known as the Bloodstone Group have taken to stealing antiquities. They are looking for a “treasure both vast and glorious” that hieroglyphics say was shipped down the Nile and out of Egypt, perhaps even west across the Atlantic. (Holy scurvy! That must’ve been a lot of hard rowing!) The criminals are known to MI5 as “very dangerous people" and "merchants selling death.” Perfectly willing to kill everyone in their way, they are aided by mechanical crows and Fydor and Xandra, nasty sibling assassins jointly called the Toymaker. Such are the foes faced by Austin and his team from the National Underwater and Marine Agency. Of course, Austin has no interest in profit; he will gladly leave the ancient riches wherever they are. Action arrives early and often, and the failed pre-Lindbergh flight fits in neatly. Cussler and Brown concoct a nifty plot with disparate, sometimes over-the-top twists that will make even hardcore adventure fans say “Wow!” Expect claustrophobic gunfights, aerial combat, a life-threatening flood, messages from the dead, coffins of gold—and a vintage classic car, because why not? “We’re going to steal the greatest deposit of Egyptian treasure the world has ever known,” brags the evil mastermind. But he’ll have to climb over the series hero’s dead body first, which—no plot spoiler here—ain’t gonna happen.

This is fast-paced, nonstop fun. Cussler fans will gobble it up.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-08308-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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