As usual, FitzSimmons provides nonstop action and a high body count, though it’s hard to maintain a consistent rooting...

Portugal may be a paradise for some, but for soldier of fortune Gibson Vaughn and his mates, it turns out to be an exceptionally bad spot to hide out from the FBI.

The problem isn’t with Albufeira but with Baltasar Alves, the gang leader who’s imposed a “Pax Algarve” on the region by suppressing the worst kinds of crimes, organizing the others with ruthless efficiency, and conscientiously repaying favors. An unnamed debt he owes Gibson’s ex-boss George Abe has cast him as the long-term host of George, Gibson, ex–LAPD officer Dan Hendricks, and Jenn Charles, Gibson’s sometime squeeze, as they recuperate from their most recent injuries (Cold Harbor, 2017) and wait for the feds to lose interest in them. While they’re still waiting, somebody hijacks a shipment of drugs from one of Baltasar’s many subcontractors, seriously miffing his Mexican suppliers impatient for their money. Baltasar initially suspects the subcontractor, neophyte skipper João Luna, but there’s every chance the guilty party was someone closer to home, someone like trusted lieutenant Anibal Ferro, or Fernando Alves, the son who runs his father’s legal activities, or Luisa Mata, the niece who runs all the others. Soon after Baltasar insists that the very unwilling Gibson repay his hospitality by recovering his stash double-quick, Luisa leads Gibson to the hijacked drugs, which a fiendish plotter calling himself Dol5 (dolphin—get it? "You know how a five-dollar bill is called a 'fin'?") has booby-trapped, taking a page from Auric Goldfinger, so that he can threaten to blow them up without taking the trouble to actually steal them. An unexpected offer Dol5 makes Gibson complicates the pattern of thrust and counterthrust still further, and soon nearly everyone involved is engaged in negotiating and renegotiating deals with escalating stakes, unreliable allies, and murderous adversaries.

As usual, FitzSimmons provides nonstop action and a high body count, though it’s hard to maintain a consistent rooting interest when the ground is so constantly shifting beneath his stalwart hero’s feet.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5039-5164-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018


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


Falls short of Crichton’s many blockbusters, but fun reading nonetheless, especially for those interested in the early days...

In 1876, professor Edward Cope takes a group of students to the unforgiving American West to hunt for dinosaur fossils, and they make a tremendous discovery.

William Jason Tertullius Johnson, son of a shipbuilder and beneficiary of his father’s largess, isn’t doing very well at Yale when he makes a bet with his archrival (because every young man has one): accompany “the bone professor” Othniel Marsh to the West to dig for dinosaur fossils or pony up $1,000, but Marsh will only let Johnson join if he has a skill they can use. They need a photographer, so Johnson throws himself into the grueling task of learning photography, eventually becoming proficient. When Marsh and the team leave without him, he hitches a ride with another celebrated paleontologist, Marsh’s bitter rival, Edward Cope. Despite warnings about Indian activity, into the Judith badlands they go. It’s a harrowing trip: they weather everything from stampeding buffalo to back-breaking work, but it proves to be worth it after they discover the teeth of what looks to be a giant dinosaur, and it could be the discovery of the century if they can only get them back home safely. When the team gets separated while transporting the bones, Johnson finds himself in Deadwood and must find a way to get the bones home—and stay alive doing it. The manuscript for this novel was discovered in Crichton’s (Pirate Latitudes, 2009, etc.) archives by his wife, Sherri, and predates Jurassic Park (1990), but if readers are looking for the same experience, they may be disappointed: it’s strictly formulaic stuff. Famous folk like the Earp brothers make appearances, and Cope and Marsh, and the feud between them, were very real, although Johnson is the author’s own creation. Crichton takes a sympathetic view of American Indians and their plight, and his appreciation of the American West, and its harsh beauty, is obvious.

Falls short of Crichton’s many blockbusters, but fun reading nonetheless, especially for those interested in the early days of American paleontology.

Pub Date: May 23, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-247335-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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