Bloody and bombastic—a top-notch addition to the saga.

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THE GODFATHER’S REVENGE

Faux Kennedy brothers, elaborate detailings of byzantine Cosa Nostra politics, steamy pulp-fiction prose, a hot murder mystery and a cartoonishly epic cast make this Godfather installment a worthy addition to the chronicle of la famigilia Corleone.

They’re baaaaack—dour Machiavellian Michael and long-suffering Connie, tight-lipped, anxiety-prone Irish consigliere Tom Hagen, even poor Michael-murdered Fredo, appearing now as a tuxedo-wearing ghost bearing a fishing rod and squeezing a naked dame. Winegardner (That’s True of Everybody, 2002, etc.) breathlessly re-animates these archetypes even more effectively than he did in 2004’s The Godfather Returns. Revenge pits Nick Gerasi, turncoat former Corleone caporegime emerging from exile in a bomb shelter beneath Lake Erie, against Michael in a mano-a-mano bloodfeud. Gerasi’s an old-school gangster, miffed at the Godfather’s efforts to go legit. And Michael has other hellhounds on his trail. There’s Attorney General Danny Shea, kid brother of philandering Jimmy, the U.S. president Michael finagled into office by means of Hagen’s chicanery and a charm offensive by Sinatra-like Corleone flunky Johnny Fontane. Danny’s dream is to enter history as the Mob-slayer, and while Michael merely wants to neutralize the threat, rival crime boss Carlo Tramonti, Don of the Big Easy, aims at actually offing Jimmy. At a pasta-mad powwow for the head honchos of all the underworld’s Five Families, Carlo advances the assassination plot, only to be interrupted as police crash in to nab Tom Hagen. Turns out his mistress, hard-case blonde bombshell Judy Buchanan, has been shot in the head and Hagen’s soon held for questioning. Winegardner’s deft plot-spinning is rivaled only by his sure grasp of Goodfella mise-en-scène, the profanity-laced witticisms, the fashion fetishizing, the cool, long, dark ’60s Chevy Biscaynes. Minor characters, from upstart Eddie Paradise to the musically monickered Ottilio Cuneo and Osvaldo Atobello, add varnish to inch-thick operatic mobster atmosphere.

Bloody and bombastic—a top-notch addition to the saga.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-15384-5

Page Count: 504

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2006

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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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A quirky and distinctive heroine headlines this fun and fast-paced thriller loaded with cinematic flourishes.

PRETTY AS A PICTURE

Murder and mayhem plague a film set on a secluded island off the coast of Delaware in Little’s (Dear Daughter, 2015, etc.) sophomore thriller.

When film editor Marissa Dahl takes a job on a new film directed by the talented but temperamental Tony Rees, she’s not given a script and must sign a mile-long nondisclosure agreement. It’s not ideal, but she needs the work. Escorted by an attractive ex–Navy SEAL named Isaiah, Marissa arrives on Kickout Island to find a bustling set, headquartered at a beautiful hotel, that is cloaked in secrecy and beset with dysfunction. Once Marissa gets down to work, she realizes that picking up the slack from the previous editor, who was fired for unknown reasons, won’t be smooth sailing and that the movie is based on the real-life unsolved murder of aspiring actress Caitlyn Kelly 25 years ago on that very island. Most folks assume that an eccentric ferry captain named Billy Lyle, a friend of Caitlyn’s, was the killer, but there was never enough evidence to convict. A few people, however, think he may be innocent. Marissa sets out to discover what really happened to Caitlyn with the help of Isaiah and two intrepid, tech-savvy 13-year-olds—Grace Portillo and Suzy Koh, whose parents work for the hotel. What she finds is a dead body and a whole lot of trouble. Readers fascinated with the behind-the-scenes machinations of a movie set will be enthralled, plus there’s a frisson of romantic tension between Isaiah and Marissa, and the island setting lends some spooky atmosphere. Snippets from Grace and Suzy’s true-crime podcast, Dead Ringer, are also sprinkled throughout. Though a killer on the loose adds a fair bit of urgency in the second half, the main focus is on Little’s singular narrator. Marissa relates to the world primarily through film and considers herself anything but typical: “It’s possible I’ve spent so much time watching movies that the language of film has infiltrated some primal, necessary part of my brain. I catch myself processing my own emotions in scenes, in shots, in dialogue.”

A quirky and distinctive heroine headlines this fun and fast-paced thriller loaded with cinematic flourishes.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-670-01639-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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