Readers should delight in the characters’ budding romance and the international locales.

The Capizzi Madonna

The author’s debut adventure novel follows a woman’s global trek as she stumbles on romance, an inherited fortune and a scheme to steal a painting.

Canadian restaurant consultant Claudia flies to Geneva to pay respects to her late and much beloved uncle Renato. She’s happy to be included in the will, receiving the bulk of her uncle’s wealth, but she soon spots a blonde woman following her, and someone else ransacks Renato’s apartment, as well as her home back in Canada. It isn’t long before she’s accosted. Evidently, some dodgy individuals want her final gift from Renato—a painting that doesn’t seem to have much value. There are allusions to espionage in Levi Garlick’s book: Claudia’s friend and business partner, Suzy, makes a couple of James Bond references, and Claudia’s love interest, Michael, is a British MI5 agent. But the story dwells more on romance than investigating terrorists. In that regard, Michael’s charms and good looks are touted a bit excessively. It’s obvious well before he meets Claudia that they’ll become a couple. But Levi Garlick develops their relationship solidly. They don’t immediately hop into bed, and the British agent is steadfastly professional in keeping his new love safe, especially after their meeting on the street leads to a kidnapping and a hail of bullets. One of the novel’s most notable assets is the cultivation of Claudia’s paranoia; looted rooms are simply “weird,” but ultimately, she thinks people are trailing or watching her, and she’s often panicky when she wakes up alone. A palpable threat makes her paranoia reasonable: A man who’s eluded Interpol in nonextradition France easily finds her in other countries, including Italy and the U.K. A first-rate subplot—her uncle’s journal, set around World War II, reveals where Renato’s love of art may have originated—enhances the story, as does the occasional humor: Claudia’s pounding chicken while prepping for dinner sends Scotland Yard’s Gael scurrying into the room with gun drawn.

Readers should delight in the characters’ budding romance and the international locales.

Pub Date: April 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-1481966320

Page Count: 444

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2013

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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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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

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A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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