As usual, the strength of Longworth's tale is its depiction of the good life in Provence, with the detection providing an...



Strange doings at a country home in Provence.

Examining magistrate Antoine Verlaque (The Curse of La Fontaine, 2017, etc.) and his bride, Marine Bonnet, have a new neighbor. Goncourt prizewinner Valère Barbier has moved into La Bastide Blanche, a formidable home in Puyloubier just outside Aix—and coincidentally, adjacent to the vineyard owned by Hélène, wife of Bruno Paulik, Verlaque’s commissaire. The Pauliks soon befriend the writer, who’s entranced by their talented young daughter, Léa. They invite him to a lovely meal of grilled lamb chops and sausages, accompanied of course by some of Hélène’s fine wine, and Barbier reciprocates to the best of his ability given that his electricity isn’t yet turned on and his kitchen is at the mercy of his flighty housekeeper, Sandrine Matton. Soon he’s smoking at Antoine’s cigar club and chatting cozily with Marine. But Valère’s welcome by his Aixoise neighbors is spoiled by the arrival of his Parisian friends. Fellow writer and childhood frenemy Michèle Baudouin shows up, shouting at her Japanese publisher over her cellphone. Michèle’s lazy lout of a son arrives, then promptly disappears. Even more unnerving, voices call out to Valère in his sleep. Unseen hands shake his shoulder. The locals, long convinced that the bastide is haunted, are unsurprised. But Antoine, suspecting that Barbier’s troubles may be connected to the death of his wife years ago in a boating accident, resolves to reopen the long-cold case. Longworth’s latest, told in part as a memoir and in part as a straightforward mystery, gains nothing by its fragmentation.

As usual, the strength of Longworth's tale is its depiction of the good life in Provence, with the detection providing an excuse for some splendid meals.

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-14-313142-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


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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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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