The chase action is enough to make this an agreeable read, and the Kid scenes add depth, though the book never delivers on...

LONG WAY DOWN

Sears’ (Black Fridays, 2012, etc.) sophisticated sleuth Jason Stafford returns in this odd hybrid of a high-finance mystery and a high-stakes chase thriller.

Stafford begins this adventure in a frazzled state, recovering from a two-year jail spell and the violent death of his ex-wife; he’s also coping with raising an autistic son, known only as the Kid. He thinks he has a simple case on his hands when millionaire engineer Philip Haley enlists his help. Haley is on the verge of a green-energy breakthrough but is about to be indicted for insider trading and claims he’s being set up. Suspects include the Chinese government and his estranged wife, Selena, until the latter is murdered on the way home from a meeting with Haley. Stafford enlists an expert hacker to investigate Haley’s financial trail but winds up receiving a note with just one word: “Run.” He then begins an elaborate flight up and down the East Coast that does little to get him out of trouble and even less to advance the plot. The book ends with a tense showdown in which Selena’s murderer, whose identity shouldn't be hard to figure out, overpowers Stafford but somehow neglects to kill him, then takes a motorboat into the East River intending to dump his body. During the ensuing confrontation Stafford demonstrates physical strength that seems quite impressive, even for a hero who works out at the gym. The flight and fight sequences are exciting if far-fetched; it reads as though Sears wrote these first and then built a story around them.

The chase action is enough to make this an agreeable read, and the Kid scenes add depth, though the book never delivers on the promise of well-turned financial intrigue.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-16671-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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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 BLACK ICE

Second tense, tightly wound tangle of a case for Hieronymous Bosch (The Black Echo, 1991). This time out, the LAPD homicide cop, who's been exiled to Hollywood Division for his bumptious behavior, sniffs out the bloody trail of the designer drug "black ice." Connelly (who covers crime for the Los Angeles Times) again flexes his knowledge of cop ways—and of cop-novel cliches. Cast from the hoary mold of the maverick cop, Bosch pushes his way onto the story's core case—the apparent suicide of a narc—despite warnings by top brass to lay off. Meanwhile, Bosch's boss, a prototypical pencil-pushing bureaucrat hoping to close out a majority of Hollywood's murder cases by New Year's Day, a week hence, assigns the detective a pile of open cases belonging to a useless drunk, Lou Porter. One of the cases, the slaying of an unidentified Hispanic, seems to tie in to the death of the narc, which Bosch begins to read as murder stemming from the narc's dirty involvement in black ice. When Porter is murdered shortly after Bosch speaks to him, and then the detective's love affair with an ambitious pathologist crashes, Bosch decides to head for Mexico, where clues to all three murders point. There, the well-oiled, ten- gear narrative really picks up speed as Bosch duels with corrupt cops; attends the bullfights; breaks into a fly-breeding lab that's the distribution center for Mexico's black-ice kingpin; and takes part in a raid on the kingpin's ranch that concludes with Bosch waving his jacket like a matador's cape at a killer bull on the rampage. But the kingpin escapes, leading to a not wholly unexpected twist—and to a touching assignation with the dead narc's widow. Expertly told, and involving enough—but lacking the sheer artistry and heart-clutching thrills of, say, David Lindsay's comparable Stuart Haydon series (Body of Evidence, etc.).

Pub Date: June 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-316-15382-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1993

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