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

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A high-fatality, low-octane procedural that has its points but lacks the wow factor. Bring back Lucas Davenport.

DARK OF THE MOON

Virgil Flowers, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator introduced as a sidekick to Lucas Davenport in Invisible Prey (2007), gets a death-enriched case of his own.

In a little town like Bluestem, everybody knows everybody’s business, and what everybody knows these days is that everybody’s getting killed. The flagship victim is Bill Judd, 82, the wealthy lawyer/banker/trader who made enemies right and left with a Jerusalem artichoke pyramid scheme 20 years ago. He’s an obvious target for the methodical arsonist who burned down his house with him inside. But the other victims are much more inoffensive: ancient physician Russell Gleason and his wife, retired Stark County sheriff Roman Schmidt and his wife. The current sheriff, Jimmy Stryker, doesn’t mind working with a BCA type like Virgil. He doesn’t even mind the sidelong gazes Virgil casts at his recently divorced sister, Joan Carson. And he brings up his share of promising ideas about the case, which involves money laundering, a meth lab, a surprise claimant to the Judd estate and a truly nasty man of the cloth. But could he be the target of his own manhunt? The advanced age of the victims makes Virgil think that the crimes could have deep roots—maybe as deep as a “man on the moon” party Bill Judd hosted back in 1969. Sadly, it seems to take another 38 years for Virgil and company, making endless rounds of Bluestem to ask really obvious questions, to close the case. The pace is so much slower than when Davenport is in charge that you may wonder if Virgil, a perfectly reasonable hero, is under sedation. It’s not until the Acknowledgments, which are deferred till the end of the story, that this last and deepest mystery is cleared up.

A high-fatality, low-octane procedural that has its points but lacks the wow factor. Bring back Lucas Davenport.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-399-15477-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2007

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A gloriously exciting yarn whose spell will end the moment you turn the last page.

TELL NO ONE

What’s worse than learning that your wife’s been abducted and murdered by a madman? Learning that she hasn’t—in this taut, twisty dose of suspenseful hokum from the gifted chronicler of sleuthing sports-agent Myron Bolitar (Darkest Fear, 2000, etc.).

For all the pain Manhattan pediatrician Dr. David Beck has suffered in the eight years since his childhood sweetheart Elizabeth, his bride of seven months, was torn away from him and later found dead, the case itself was open and shut: She was tortured, branded, and slain by the perp calling himself KillRoy, now doing life on 14 counts of homicide. But the case pops open again with the discovery of two corpses buried near the murder site, along with the baseball bat that was used to incapacitate Beck during the abduction, and with a jolting e-mail Beck’s received from somebody who looks just like Elizabeth. If the message is bogus, how was it faked? And if it’s genuine, why has Elizabeth been hiding for eight years, why has she come back now, and whose body did her father, New York homicide cop Hoyt Parker, identify as hers and bury in her grave? A face-to-face rendezvous that Beck’s mysterious correspondent sets up in Washington Square promises answers—but when it’s time for the meeting, Beck is being hunted by the police for a murder a lot less than eight years old. Aided by celebrity lawyer Hester Crimstein, grateful drug-dealer Tyrese Barton, and his own sister Linda’s lover—that glamorous plus-size model Shauna—Beck goes up against even more improbable foes, from ruthless zillionaire developer Griffin Scope to bare-hands killer Eric Wu, in a quest for answers that’ll have you burning the midnight oil till 3:00 a.m. and scratching your head in disbelief when you wake up the next morning.

A gloriously exciting yarn whose spell will end the moment you turn the last page.

Pub Date: June 12, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-33555-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2001

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