An unyielding private investigator who unravels a mystery, and takes out criminal organizations in the interim.

The Quest for Asian Sin

In this debut thriller, a retired sheriff’s search for a missing ex-porn star leads to corrupt individuals with their hands in all sorts of illicit deeds—including murder.

Former cop Lt. Jack Conner only got his private eye license on the advice of lawyers who’d hired him for legal investigations. But he puts it to use when, while vacationing in San Diego, he spots an article on the unexplained disappearance of former porn star Asian Sin. Named Sara Jones by her adoptive parents, the missing woman sparks a memory of Xiu Tang, a Chinese medical student whom years ago teenaged Jack had loved. He’s determined to find Asian, first on his own but later with allies he steadily gathers, like adult bookstore owner Bill Parker, sharing Jack’s belief that Asian didn’t vanish willingly. Jack will need all the help he can get, as his probe turns up various criminal activities, from kidnappings to drug running. It’s perhaps no surprise when a few thugs rough him up, because his case threatens to expose any number of baddies. At the same time, he may have something for Keeley Nu, a lawyer for the adult film company that had signed Asian. He is, however, conflicted, a divorcé who falls in love too quickly but can’t quite commit as strongly to a woman as he does to investigative work. Lemley’s book has the earmarks of a detective story; Jack even gets a paycheck, eventually signing an agreement with Asian’s attorney, Dallas Xiao Xu, to protect their mutual exchange of information. But while there’s mystery and plenty of twists (especially character links), there are likewise signs of espionage. Jack faces gangsters, conducts surveillance outside the United States, and occasionally dodges bullets with capable pals, most notably Dan, Dallas’ driver who’s more than he seems. Tracking down Asian, though, is the main plot and never falters, and despite the bevy of bad guys and ensuing false leads (concerning the missing woman), the tale’s not convoluted. Jack’s not the most likable protagonist: he beds a few women, notwithstanding his apparent love for Keeley. Such a flaw makes him engrossing, and he furthermore acknowledges his womanizing, but it certainly doesn’t earn him sympathy.

An unyielding private investigator who unravels a mystery, and takes out criminal organizations in the interim.

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5245-2568-2

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2016

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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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After a flight in fantasy with When the Wind Blows (1998), Patterson goes to ground with another slash-and-squirm psychokiller page-turner, this one dedicated to “the millions of Alex Cross readers, who so frequently ask, can’t you write faster?” By day, Geoffrey Shafer is a charming, 42-year-old British Embassy paper-pusher with a picture-perfect family and a shady past as an MI-6 secret agent. Come sundown, he swallows a pharmacy of psychoactive pills, gulps three black coffees loaded with sugar, and roams the streets of Washington, D.C., in a battered cab, where, disguised as a black man, he rolls dice to determine which among his black female fares he—ll murder. Afterwards he dumps his naked victims in crime-infested back alleys of black- slum neighborhoods, then sends e-mails boasting of his accomplishments to three other former MI-6 agents involved in a hellish Internet role-playing game. “I sensed I was at the start of another homicide mess,” sighs forensic-psychologist turned homicide-detective Alex Cross. Cross yearns to catch the “Jane Doe murderer” but is thwarted by Det. Chief George Pittman, who assigns sexy Det. Patsy Hampton to investigate Cross and come up with a reason for dismissing him. Meanwhile, Cross’s fiancÇe is kidnaped during a Bermuda vacation, and an anonymous e-mail warns him to back off. He doesn’t, of course, and just when it appears that Patterson is sleep-walking through his story, Cross nabs Shafer minutes after Shafer kills Det. Hampton. During the subsequent high-visibility trail, Shafer manages to make the jury believe that he’s innocent and that Cross was trying to frame him. When all seems lost, a sympathetic British intelligence chief offers to help Cross bring down Shafer, and the other homicidal game-players, during a showdown on the breezy beaches of Jamaica. Kinky mayhem, a cartoonish villain, regular glimpses of the kindly Cross caring for his loved ones, and an ending that spells a sequel: Patterson’s fans couldn’t ask for more.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-69328-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1999

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