If you don’t mind graphic descriptions of grisly killings, Oldham offers a nicely tangled knot to unravel.

LOW PROFILE

A current and a former cop cross swords almost without crossing paths as they chase a gang of crooks who prefer to leave no witnesses.

The Lancashire countryside doesn’t offer DS Henry Christie (Judgement Call, 2014, etc.) a lot of bloody murders. So when his sister Lisa asks him to see what’s got her old friend Percy Astley-Barnes’ knickers in a knot, he doesn’t expect to wander in on a hit man who’s slowly and painfully executed Percy and his girlfriend, Lottie. Meanwhile, Steve Flynn had hoped Gran Canaria would be far enough for him to live down the disgrace of being booted off the Lancashire CID for corruption, along with his partner, Jack Hoyle. Now Flynn spends his days taking tourists out for marlin on the Lady Faye 2. But Scott Costain jawbones Flynn into taking him out to Gui Gui to spy on the pleasure boat Destiny. When shots fly off the Destiny’s bow, Costain fires back, and the Faye is lucky to make it back to the dock in one piece. No wonder the Spanish police throw Flynn in jail when Costain and his girlfriend, Trish Mason, turn up dead. News of Flynn’s plight filters back to Henry, whose inquiries about who’d want to snuff out old Percy focus increasingly on the Costains. Nor is Christie sorry to hear that Flynn’s in the slammer. Flynn and Christie both need to find out what Costain was looking for aboard the Faye and how his quest in Gran Canaria is connected to the murder of a Lancaster businessman—and of course, each one wants to make sure he finds out before the other.

If you don’t mind graphic descriptions of grisly killings, Oldham offers a nicely tangled knot to unravel.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7278-8390-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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 characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once...

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

In Baldacci’s 19th (True Blue, 2009, etc.), boy and girl monster-hunters meet cute.

Evan Waller, aka Fadir Kuchin, aka “the Butcher of Kiev,” aka “the Ukrainian psychopath,” is one of those deep-dyed villains a certain kind of fiction can’t do without. Serving with distinction as part of the Soviet Union’s KGB, he joyfully and indiscriminately killed thousands. Now, many years later, posing as a successful businessman, he’s vacationing in Provence where, unbeknownst to him, two separate clandestine operations are being mounted by people who do not regard him with favor. Reggie Campion—28 and gorgeous—spearheads the first, an ad hoc group of monster-hunting vigilantes. Studly, tall Shaw (no first name supplied) is point guard for a rival team, shadowy enough to leave the matter of its origin ambiguous. While their respective teams reconnoiter and jockey for position, studly boy meets gorgeous girl. Monster-hunters are famous for having trust issues, but clearly these are drawn to each other in the time-honored Hollywood fashion. Shaw saves Reggie’s life. She returns the favor. The attraction deepens and heats up to the point where team-members on both sides grow unsettled by the loss of focus, singularly inopportune since, as monsters go, Waller rises to the second coming of Caligula—ample testimony furnished by a six-page, unsparingly detailed torture scene. In the end, the stalkers strike, bullets fly, screams curdle the blood, love has its innings and a monster does what a monster’s got to do.

The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once again show the stuff it’s made of.

Pub Date: April 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-446-56408-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Avon A/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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