His emphasis on the thorny issues surrounding honor killings allows Billingham (Die of Shame, 2016, etc.) to put a new and...

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LOVE LIKE BLOOD

DI Tom Thorne steps on more toes than usual to help out Nicola Tanner, a detective who’s supposed to stay even further away from the case at hand than he is.

Since Susan Best was nothing more than an inoffensive grade school teacher, Tanner is convinced the two men who squirted bleach into her eyes and stabbed her to death mistook her for Tanner herself, who was the dead woman's flat mate and lover. DCI Russell Brigstocke quite properly refuses to let Tanner work the case, so Tanner asks Thorne to take time out from his million other jobs (Time of Death, 2015, etc.) to look into the matter most likely to have made her new enemies: her work with the Honour Crimes Unit, which investigates the murders of young women whose Westernized behavior might have brought shame to their families. The HCU has focused lately on cold cases, but a hot one obligingly turns up: the murder of Amaya Shah, a Barnet College student found with her missing boyfriend’s semen inside her. The activist Asian-English members of the Anti Hate Crime Alliance, Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus alike, bay for the blood of Kamal Azim, but the revelation that the missing boyfriend is actually gay persuades Thorne that the guilt lies elsewhere—perhaps within the ranks of the AHCA itself. To a case that cries out for tact, delicacy, and cross-cultural sensitivity, Thorne brings bulldog tenacity, a gift for reading people, and a determination to devote his every waking moment to its solution, especially after a second attack leaves Tanner’s flat in flames. Most readers won’t be surprised by the resolution, but very few will predict the unnerving coda.

His emphasis on the thorny issues surrounding honor killings allows Billingham (Die of Shame, 2016, etc.) to put a new and urgent spin on his tried-and-true procedural formula.

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2653-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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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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THE MIDNIGHT CLUB

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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