A collection of curiosities best spaced out over several sessions but still a most civilized anecdote to contemporary...

THE LONG ARM OF THE LAW

Tired of newspaper headlines that accuse cops of malfeasance or worse? Veteran editor Edwards (Continental Crimes, 2017, etc.) has the perfect antidote: 15 reprints of stories from 1908 to 1966 showing English police officers at (generally) their most sterling.

By their very nature, police procedurals unfold over an extended period. These authors haven’t got much time; their investigations generally focus on tightknit family groups instead of casting a wider net. Alice and Claude Askew’s melodramatic tale of poisoning and George R. Sims’ account of a child whose throat has been cut are of mostly historical interest. John Creasey’s heartfelt tale of Chief Inspector Roger West questioning a young boy who’s the best and only witness to the circumstances surrounding his mother’s murder has room for exactly one surprise, and Freeman Willis Crofts’ miniature inverted tale even less than that. But although readers may not expect much ingenuity in these generally stolid unravelings, the anecdote one Deptford Police Constable tells about another delivers a reliable snap in Edgar Wallace's entry; Lawrence W. Meynell provides a clue worthy of the most brilliant amateur sleuth; Leonard R. Gribble constructs and deconstructs an inventive fraud with panache; Henry Wade supplies a workmanlike killer and an even more workmanlike pair of coppers; Nicholas Blake briskly links the death of a guide dog to a more consequential murder; and Christianna Brand’s witty, heartless tale of Inspector Cockrill solving a murder among a family of thespians is predictably just as clever, page for page, as her Cockrill novels. As a bonus, Roy Vickers’ matter-of-fact tale of a bigamist brought to summary justice and Michael Gilbert’s unearthing of a long and shocking chain of murders really do carry something like the cumulative weight of a roman policier.

A collection of curiosities best spaced out over several sessions but still a most civilized anecdote to contemporary stories about the police, fictional or non-.

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 1-4642-0906-5

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

POP GOES THE WEASEL

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more