Too relentlessly facetious to take seriously but more frantic than funny.


Criminal conspiracy doesn’t rain in 1957 Brighton: It pours.

Waiting on a staircase inside the Maison du Wax for blind sculptor Pierre Tussard and his daughter and assistant, Angélique, to finish preliminary measurements of Brighton Constabulary wireless star Inspector Geoffrey St John Steine, their latest model, Constable Peregrine Twitten overhears two teenagers whispering how much they’d love to run away together and how careful they have to be around the people who cut off Uncle Ken’s head. Laboring to remember all the proper names the couple dropped—Blackmore, Hoagland, Dickie—Twitten has no clue that he’s stumbled onto the tip of a very large and felonious iceberg. Further enlightenment arrives, along with further mystification, when Peter Dupont, the neophyte town council clerk Twitten overheard, is found with his throat cut, and his girlfriend turns out to be Deirdre Benson, whose brothers, Frank and Bruce, along with their mother, run a profitable family crime syndicate out of the Black Cat club. And there’s more. Veteran con artist Joseph "Wall-Eye" Marriott accosts Adelaide Vine and her friend Phyllis, a pair of Brighton Belles given the job of helping strangers; then he pretends to be Lord Melamine Colchester and offers to sell them gold at the bargain price of 25 pounds a brick—that is, unless it really is the Marquess of Colchester and those bricks really are gold. Dickie George, a lounge singer at the Black Cat, emerges from a week in the Brighton sewers only to be struck dead by a giant piece of candy. And Palmeira Groynes is ready to execute any number of foul schemes that Twitten could foil if only he could persuade Inspector Steine that the constabulary’s charlady was the evil genius he’s recognized as such ever since A Shot in the Dark (2018). Truss’ period burlesque extends from individual character types and obligatory scenes to the longer narrative arcs beloved of more recent franchises.

Too relentlessly facetious to take seriously but more frantic than funny.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63557-423-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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