Ripley (Angels Unaware, 2008, etc.) is almost too successful in fulfilling the bespectacled detective’s ploy of making...

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MARGERY ALLINGHAM'S MR. CAMPION'S FAREWELL

In his 22nd adventure, a gentleman detective takes on local politics and characters as eccentric as he is.

When Albert Campion visits the picturesque East Anglian town of Lindsay Carfax, it’s purportedly to visit Eliza Jane Fitton, his wife’s niece. His ulterior motive, however, is to nose around the town at the request of his friend, CID Superintendent Charles Luke. The town’s mysterious governing body, the Carders, dates back to the late Middle Ages and pays homage to Lindsay Carfax’s heyday as a prosperous wool-trading center. Now it’s the tourists who get fleeced, as Campion discovers when he visits the antiques store that sells his niece’s paint-to-order landscapes and the shop of an 18th-century apothecary and his weather-forecasting apparatus, the Humble Box. But the quaint half-timbered buildings belie a more modern tragedy: Two archaeology students died from a drug overdose the year before during an influx of hippies. More recently, a schoolteacher became the latest Nine Days’ Wonder when he disappeared and reappeared the worse for wear, and Eliza Jane was hurt by a booby trap meant for her artist boyfriend. A visit to Campion’s Cambridge college further educates him about the wool business and the practice of owling, or sheep smuggling. But his real focus is on secret underground passages that everyone knows about and the secret Carders whose identities are equally open knowledge. Underneath what his wife calls an Idiot-in-Search-of-a-Village expression, Campion is shrewd enough to discover the truth in Ripley's completion of a fragment left behind by Campion creator Margery Allingham’s husband, who wrote several Campion adventures in her name after she died.

Ripley (Angels Unaware, 2008, etc.) is almost too successful in fulfilling the bespectacled detective’s ploy of making himself an ineffectual nonentity. Only toward the end of this meandering, fitfully amusing, resolutely twee story does Campion become more than a sad echo of an earlier age.

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7278-8383-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 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 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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