Parry clearly loves writing about earlier generations on his native turf, and this time he gives us greater suspense than in...

BOLD SONS OF ERIN

Fifth in the hauntingly rich Abel Jones Civil War series, following Honor’s Kingdom and the more recent non-Jones Our Simple Gifts: Civil War Christmas Tales (2002).

For many, Owen Parry (a.k.a. retired Army intelligence officer and defense policy analyst Lt. Col. Ralph Peters) is a writer dropped from heaven whose grit sweeps forward on a Welsh/Irish bardic flow (“Perhaps she even loved the wicked man. For love is a land without maps, akin to death,” or “The moon wore a bandit’s mask of cloud to rob the sky of stars”). The new Parry explores a lost area of the Civil War, the effect of immigrant Germans, Welsh, and sons of Erin on the war’s outcome, since these new Americans filled out the ranks that turned back the Confederate tide and, in fact, saved the North. Not surprisingly, Lincoln turns to 34-year-old Major Abel Jones, a Welsh immigrant and Union Army detective, to carry out his personal intelligence directives and solve murders that often revolve on prejudice—and Jones himself has plenty of prejudices. The story focuses on Irish miners in the author’s home area around Pottsville, Pennsylvania, where some rioting miners didn’t want to serve Mr. Lincoln, having no urge to be the same cannon fodder they’d been for the British in India. (In fact, Lincoln later absolves these wildmen from the draft.) As ever, Jones faces a ghastly rotting corpse, in this case a vilely stabbed young woman’s. She’s been buried in place of Daniel Boland, who confessed to murdering Union General Stone (Stone had been looking for draftees in this area); then Boland died the same day of cholera and was “buried” in the Catholic churchyard. Lincoln wants to know who murdered his general, and Jones wants to know who murdered the mystery girl.

Parry clearly loves writing about earlier generations on his native turf, and this time he gives us greater suspense than in Honor’s Kingdom.

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-051390-X

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2003

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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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POP GOES THE WEASEL

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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