Delivering an unusual subject and structure, this tale offers refreshing emotional depth and a gay narrative seldom seen in...

CARVED IN BONE

A HENRY RIOS NOVEL

An intrepid lawyer returns in this latest installment of a mystery series centering on gay characters and themes.

In 1971, Bill Ryan, an 18-year-old in a small town in Illinois, is just beginning to explore and contemplate his sexuality. In a familiar gay narrative, Bill is caught experimenting with another boy and subsequently disowned by his family. He finds himself on a bus to San Francisco with just a bag and a few hundred dollars. Nava (Street People, 2017, etc.) then brings the action 13 years into the future to San Francisco, where attorney Henry Rios, the protagonist of several of the author’s previous novels, has left rehab and joined Alcoholics Anonymous. But the dark shadow of AIDS has already cast itself over the city and Rios’ recovery. Wanting to make more money than he can bring in with his struggling criminal defense practice, Rios takes a job as an insurance investigator. His first case is that of a local gay man who died from a gas leak in his apartment, and that individual is none other than the successful adult Bill became. Rios tries to track down the victim’s missing lover, Nick Trejo, only to discover disturbing evidence that Bill’s death might not have been an accident. Meanwhile, the novel shifts back and forth in time, showing readers how Bill finally found his way and how Rios struggles to discover where it all eventually went wrong. The main mystery driving Nava’s latest work may be of little interest to true thriller lovers—the twists and final revelations are much more tragic than suspenseful. But the book is expertly constructed to give a unique perspective on rare subjects for the genre: the AIDS crisis and the complexities of gay relationships. As readers watch young Bill wake up to the realities of his sexuality, Rios simultaneously reevaluates his own choices in light of what that man eventually became. The author offers a kaleidoscopic view of shame, greed, and the pervasive dread of an epidemic.

Delivering an unusual subject and structure, this tale offers refreshing emotional depth and a gay narrative seldom seen in thrillers.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-73360-910-4

Page Count: 366

Publisher: Persigo Press

Review Posted Online: July 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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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

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