A slick, dynamic mystery that confronts readers with just how many sides a story can have before we get to what matters: the...

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THE DEVIL'S SNARE

Donovan’s (Behind Closed Doors, 2013) second adventure of hard-boiled Eddie Flynn is a story steeped in the harsh realities of kidnapping, tabloid journalism, and good old-fashioned detective work.

The media circus around the Barber family has lasted nearly two years by the time the investigators of the Eagle Eye Detective Agency get involved, but just how the spectacle started remains a mystery. Are the Barbers victims of a horrible crime—the tragic kidnapping of their young daughter—or are they monsters, profiting from a nationwide hoax? Between Eddie Flynn, an ex-cop who can’t resist the promise of real detective work; Sean Shaughnessy, a former Special Forces tough with a nose for trouble; Lucy, their gossipy, loud, and surprisingly resourceful office admin; and a few other helpers and hangers-on, the agency has a better shot than most at cracking the case. Plus, the money, curiosity, and challenge are too much to pass up. Characters, defined mostly in broad strokes, won’t jump out to new readers, but the depth of the mystery more than makes up for it. The Barbers’ tragedy has created fortunes for some and no end of rage in others, leaving plenty of profiteers and malcontents; some might try to bring about their own idea of vigilante justice, while others hope to keep the misery—i.e., profit—flowing. Along with inconsistencies in the Barbers’ own story, the evidence against them ranges from concerning to outright damning. Flynn’s job is a tightrope walk, and it only becomes more difficult for him to protect his clients as evidence mounts on both sides. Do they deserve his help or the gallows? Genre fans will enjoy the multifaceted mystery, which will likely continue in a sequel.

A slick, dynamic mystery that confronts readers with just how many sides a story can have before we get to what matters: the truth.

Pub Date: March 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-1508569909

Page Count: 380

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

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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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