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THE TEMPLARS' LAST SECRET

Just the thing for readers hungry for a banquet of epicurean pleasures, ancient history, international terrorism, and holy...

The good life in the Périgord countryside is menaced by pedophiles, terrorists, torturers, and a visiting magistrate from Paris.

Does he need to buy a new suit for the wedding of his 60-something friends, museum curator Dr. Clothilde Daumier and archaeological consultant professor Horst Vogelstern? St. Denis Police Chief Bruno Courrèges (Fatal Pursuit, 2016, etc.) only wishes that were his biggest problem. But the newspapers are full of reports alleging sex abuse at the Mussidan orphanage 30 years ago, based on testimony obtained under hypnosis by psychologist Marie-France Duteiller, though the evidence has been questioned by Chief Detective Jean-Jacques Jalipeau. A more urgent report comes from the Château Commarque, a magnificent but half-ruined structure on the road to Sarlat. The body of an unidentified woman has been found beneath a wall she seems to have fallen from in the course of painting the letters I, F, T, I. The discovery that the dead woman is Leah Ben-Ari, an Israeli born in France as Leah Wolinsky, and the theory that her graffiti refers to the Testament of Iftikhar, a centuries-old document that purports to expose Muslim claims to Jerusalem as fraudulent, only deepens the mystery. Why had Leah come to this out-of-the-way place to make her statement? How to parse her long relationship with Palestinian Saïd al-Husayni, and how is she connected to the terrorists who tortured noted Templar scholar Auguste Dumesnil to the point of death? What effect will the suicide of an elderly nun who pressed the police to investigate at the orphanage have on the Mussidan case? And how will Bruno ever find time in the midst of this swirling intrigue to wine and dine lovely Guadeloupe-born magistrate Amélie Plessis, who, sent by the Ministry of Justice to look over his shoulder, recommends that he set up a Facebook account?

Just the thing for readers hungry for a banquet of epicurean pleasures, ancient history, international terrorism, and holy matrimony. More timid souls who crave a less incongruous mix may want to wait till next year.

Pub Date: June 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-94680-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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THE WINNER

Irritatingly trite woman-in-periler from lawyer-turned-novelist Baldacci. Moving away from the White House and the white-shoe Washington law firms of his previous bestsellers (Absolute Power, 1996; Total Control, 1997), Baldacci comes up with LuAnn Tyler, a spunky, impossibly beautiful, white-trash truck stop waitress with a no-good husband and a terminally cute infant daughter in tow. Some months after the birth of Lisa, LuAnn gets a phone call summoning her to a make-shift office in an unrented storefront of the local shopping mall. There, she gets a Faustian offer from a Mr. Jackson, a monomaniacal, cross-dressing manipulator who apparently knows the winning numbers in the national lottery before the numbers are drawn. It seems that LuAnn fits the media profile of what a lottery winner should be—poor, undereducated but proud—and if she's willing to buy the right ticket at the right time and transfer most of her winnings to Jackson, she'll be able to retire in luxury. Jackson fails to inform her, however, that if she refuses his offer, he'll have her killed. Before that can happen, as luck would have it, LuAnn barely escapes death when one of husband Duane's drug deals goes bad. She hops on a first-class Amtrak sleeper to Manhattan with a hired executioner in pursuit. But executioner Charlie, one of Jackson's paid handlers, can't help but hear wedding bells when he sees LuAnn cooing with her daughter. Alas, a winning $100- million lottery drawing complicates things. Jackson spirits LuAnn and Lisa away to Sweden, with Charlie in pursuit. Never fear. Not only will LuAnn escape a series of increasingly violent predicaments, but she'll also outwit Jackson, pay an enormous tax bill to the IRS, and have enough left over to honeymoon in Switzerland. Too preposterous to work as feminine wish-fulfillment, too formulaic to be suspenseful. (Book-of-the-Month Club main selection)

Pub Date: Dec. 2, 1997

ISBN: 0-446-52259-7

Page Count: 528

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1997

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