Rose again strings a taut line of suspense, but her heroine’s relentless mourning overwhelms the story rather than adding...

SHEET MUSIC

After three lusty thrillers (Flesh Tones, 2002, etc.), the author’s latest, centered on genius and mourning, becomes mired in its own emotional excess.

Justine Pagett, an American reporter living in Paris (since the death of her mother) has the scoop of a lifetime; unfortunately, it requires the monumental betrayal of her lover. The ensuing exposé, far from serving her career, engenders a sort of blacklisting, leaving Justine nearly broke and desperate for an opportunity to reclaim her professional standing. A long article on the reclusive Sophie DeLyon may be the only thing that can save her reputation. Sophie, a fictional protégé of Leonard Bernstein’s, is a force of nature: redheaded and wild, she’s composer, conductor, lover to many, beholden to none. She reigns as a sort of queen at Euphonia: an estate on the Connecticut shore used as a conservatory for only the most gifted. Sophie, approaching old age, has decided she wants to tell her story, and Justine, ex-lover to cellist and Sophie-apprentice Austen, seems the perfect choice. But nothing goes right, especially Justine’s reaction to being back in New York City. Justine is consumed by her mother’s death: no memory can be happy, no keepsake comforting, no location nostalgic because each reminds her that her mother died unhappy. She blames her father, who wasn’t loving enough, and her sister, who wasn’t there enough in the final days of illness. With anger and sadness overwhelming her, she drives with Austen to Euphonia only to find that Sophie has disappeared. She’s prone to eccentric behavior, and some think she’ll return—though with her sailboat smashed on the shore, it seems unlikely. While the search continues, Justine begins to uncover some of Sophie’s secrets—mental problems, an affair with her own son’s wife, her power over her students’ careers—and with these revelations come anonymous threats against Justine’s life.

Rose again strings a taut line of suspense, but her heroine’s relentless mourning overwhelms the story rather than adding depth.

Pub Date: May 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-345-45106-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 19

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

more