Though it works against suspense and urgency, the emphasis on the regular cast pays off this time in a truly traumatic...



Sharon McCone’s search for the missing daughter of a pair of old friends leads her to a flurry of crimes old and new.

From their vacation in far-off Costa Rica, Trish and Jim Curley reach out to McCone when their daughter, Michelle, already a successful real estate rehabber at 23, stops answering her phone. It’s true, says Zack Kaplan, one of the two remaining tenants in the Breakers, Chelle’s current project: He hasn’t seen her for a week. Having dismissed Damon Delahanty, the ex-con boyfriend working with her on the Breakers, Chelle has been down to two other helpers, Al Majewski and Ollie Morse, and one other tenant, self-avowed wizard Tyler Pincus, who seems incapable of kidnapping or killing the woman who was trying to evict him. The most disturbing piece of evidence left behind, a “wall of horrors” in Chelle’s stripped-down bedroom that displays newspaper clippings of celebrated Bay Area murderers, has been there ever since an earlier tenant, aspiring true-crime writer Bruno Storch, posted the clippings there years ago. But it’s one of those items, the one featuring a shadowy figure called the Carver who’s still at large after killing half a dozen men, that provides the crucial connection when Zack is stabbed to death in a vacant lot in Outer Richmond. Fans may feel that the mystery of Zack’s death and Chelle’s disappearance is upstaged by another season of The Sharon McCone Show, with updates on every recurring character from McCone’s Shoshone birth father, Elwood Farmer, now finally recovered from his brutal beating by white supremacists (The Color of Fear, 2017), to her free-spirited adoptive mother, Katie McCone, to her husband and partner, Hy Ripinsky, to her favorite operatives and more distant relatives.

Though it works against suspense and urgency, the emphasis on the regular cast pays off this time in a truly traumatic development you can bet Muller will be exploring in further detail in her next installment.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4555-3893-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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Child builds tension to unbearable extremes, then blows it out in sharply choreographed violence, even if his plot has more...


From the Jack Reacher series , Vol. 5

Smashingly suspenseful fifth in Child’s series (Running Blind, 2000, etc.) lands this British author’s rootless, laconic action hero in southwest Texas, where a femme fatale lures him into a family squabble that inevitably turns violent.

In the kind of daylight-noir setting that Jim Thompson loved, ex-military cop Jack Reacher has his thumb out on a lonely west Texas highway when he’s picked up by Carmine Greer, the Mexican-American wife of bad-ol’-boy Sloop Greer. It seems that Sloop, elder son of a white-trash-turned-oil-rich ranching dynasty, is nearing the end of a prison term for tax evasion, and Carmine, whose body Reacher sees is marked with signs of physical abuse, wants Reacher to be her bodyguard—or, failing that, kill the man in such a way that Carmine can still hold on to her terminally cute six-year-old daughter Ellie. Reacher refuses but decides to meet the folks: Rusty, Sloop’s racist, charmless mother, and Bobby, Sloop’s stupid, pugnacious brother. Meanwhile, a trio of paid assassins is littering the Texas roadside with corpses, starting with Sloop’s lawyer, Al Eugene. In a set-piece as good as anything in Elmore Leonard, Bobby sends two ranch-hands to ambush Reacher at an Abilene roadhouse filled with 20 other cowboys spoiling for a fight. Reacher walks away without a scratch, telling Bobby that his hospitalized ranch-hands have “quit.” Child twists his increasingly hokey plot into a pretzel when Sloop is found dead and Carmine confesses to killing him. Reacher just can’t believe that Carmine is guilty and teams up with Alice Aarons, a leggy Jewish lesbian fresh out of law school, who trusts him with her car, her handgun, and her life.

Child builds tension to unbearable extremes, then blows it out in sharply choreographed violence, even if his plot has more holes in it than the shirt Reacher uses for target practice.

Pub Date: July 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-14726-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2001

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