Walker’s latest is replete with incident, but like the frequent dinners his hero prepares for friends, paying guests, and...

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A TASTE FOR VENGEANCE

A promotion comes with a host of challenges for the Périgord region’s Bruno Courrèges (The Templar’s Last Secret, 2017, etc.).

As chief of police for the tiny Dordogne village of St. Denis, Bruno used to serve more as a town policeman, going to the square on market days to kiss the babies and chat with their grandmères. He even had time to coach the local women’s rugby team. But now that he’s been promoted to chief of police of the entire Vézère Valley, he’s facing the challenges that come with greater responsibility. He needs to ride herd on Louis, the town policeman in Montignac, who spends too much time in the local bars, and to mentor young, ambitious Juliette Robard, who just replaced the sole policewoman in Les Eyzies. He also needs to negotiate the unorthodox chain of command in rural France. Prunier, the commissaire de police for the Dordogne département, thinks that Bruno now works for him, but the Mayor of St. Denis is convinced that Bruno is still his subordinate. Bruno’s delicate calculations about whom he reports to and who reports to him become all the more stressful when an Englishwoman is found dead in Lalinde, definitely outside his old remit in St. Denis. Monika Felder left Gatwick for France to take a cooking course offered by Bruno’s friends Pamela and Miranda but never arrived. Her body is discovered in a cabin belonging to Patrick James McBride, a mysterious Irishman who owns a local vineyard and whose travels to Amsterdam, Florence, and Dubai suggest that he’s not a typical French winemaker. And if adjusting to his new role and solving his latest case weren’t enough, Bruno finds out that Paulette, a star of his rugby team with a decent shot at making the national squad, is unexpectedly pregnant.

Walker’s latest is replete with incident, but like the frequent dinners his hero prepares for friends, paying guests, and the occasional visiting FBI agent, its abundance seems just one more testimony to the richness of the region.

Pub Date: June 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-51996-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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