An overstuffed but breezy family drama that plays out its familiar narrative beats right on time.



A British journalist and a Canadian carpenter discover the murky union between their parents during the quest to solve an old mystery.

Here’s a cultural stew for you: a novel by bestselling French novelist Levy (Hope, 2016, etc.) with a translation by Wasserman, a former film professional, starring two charming leads saddled with Beatles-esque names, set largely in the cinematically dreary city of Baltimore, Maryland. That’s the scene for Levy’s sprawling familial saga that spans three generations and time periods and leaps between points of view with abandon. Eleanor-Rigby “Elby” Donovan is a journalist for National Geographic, still mourning the loss of her mother, who recently passed away, and tending to her idiosyncratic father and a pair of odd-duck siblings. Her proclamation early in the book is prescient: “The strange part is that it took traveling to the ends of the earth for me to realize that what I was looking for was right there in front of me the whole time. All I had to do was open my eyes and start noticing the wonder of the world outside my front door.” Her adventure begins when she receives an anonymous letter hinting of secrets in her mother’s past and pointing her toward clues to her mum’s true nature. Simultaneously, in Quebec, handsome young carpenter George-Harrison Collins receives a similar letter hinting at the truth about the father he never knew. Between his characters' present-day meet-cute introduction and their discovery of an eccentric professor who holds the answers to their familial drama, Levy inserts a wartime story set in 1944 about a wealthy Maryland family and another sequence set in 1980 that explores the mysterious circumstances binding Elby's and George-Harrison’s families together. By modern standards, it sets a rather frothy, picaresque tone for a mystery novel, but readers looking for something light will find it an amusing indulgence.

An overstuffed but breezy family drama that plays out its familiar narrative beats right on time.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5039-5912-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: AmazonCrossing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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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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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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