UNNATURAL DEATH

Formulaic, but there’s still enough for the loyalists. It’s a safe bet that Scarpetta will return.

Kay Scarpetta travels deep into rural Virginia to retrieve the bodies of two potential spies who have been savaged by a seemingly invisible assassin–or maybe it was Bigfoot?!

After a dismally busy Halloween night at Virginia’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Scarpetta is preparing to join her niece, Secret Service agent Lucy Farinelli, to travel by helicopter to claim the bodies of Huck and Brittany Manson, owners of an outdoor gear store who are suspected of spying for the Russians and/or the Chinese. Much of the novel is taken up by this retrieval mission, relayed in typical Cornwell fashion with a great deal of detail and description about preparation and procedure. The Mansons’ bodies are ravaged, the campsite is destroyed, and the trail cameras the Secret Service hacked failed to capture the assailant. Investigator, staunch Scarpetta ally, and Bigfoot enthusiast Pete Marino is already on the ground and has taken a cast of an enormous footprint near one of the bodies. When they return to Richmond with the bodies for autopsy, Scarpetta faces off with a former employee who is seeking to discredit her. Her sense of unease about the situation grows when husband Benton Wesley, now advising the Secret Service, and a group of government officials insist on remotely observing the autopsy. She finds a micro hard drive embedded in Brittany’s hip, which seems to be what the murderer was seeking but failed to locate. It’s been more than 30 years since Scarpetta’s debut, and she’s still seeking dignity for the victims under her care while fighting against shadowy government forces and long-standing nemeses. The past several novels have re-introduced a foe previously presumed dead, and this one continues to leave that storyline wide open.

Formulaic, but there’s still enough for the loyalists. It’s a safe bet that Scarpetta will return.

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2023

ISBN: 9781538743164

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

THE ATLAS MANEUVER

Speculators who haven’t been put off by bitcoin’s recent crash will enjoy this walk—well, run—on the wild side.

Cotton Malone, who just can’t stay retired from international intrigue, joins the mad dance of competitors for a fortune in bitcoin.

So many people have forgotten about the horde of gold the retreating Japanese hid on Luzon Island in the Philippines that it’s not at all clear who has legal title to it. That’s perfect for Robert Citrone, the retired CIA overseer of the Black Eagle Trust, which has used the gold to fund covert operations around the world. Just as Derrick Koger, the European station chief for the CIA, is pulling Malone away from his Copenhagen bookstore to help him investigate possible misdeeds swirling around Luxembourg’s Bank of St. George and its ruthless chief operating officer, Catherine Gledhill, other interested parties turn up in often surprising connections. Freelance assassin Kyra Lhota executes Armenian oligarch Samvel Yerevan and moves on to her next target. Malone’s sometime lover Cassiopeia Vitt is snatched by high-ranking Japanese security chief Aiko Ejima. His former lover Suzy Baldwin resurfaces as Kelly Austin, BSG’s director of special technology, who’s concealing secrets from Malone and the rest of the world. They’re all on the trail of a fabulous cache of bitcoin that in the absence of any legal records of ownership will belong, like the Luzon gold, to anyone who can track it down and grab it. The grandly scaled complications that follow feature countless broken alliances and the deaths of a fearsome number of nonfranchise characters. An extended author’s note explains what’s historically accurate (quite a bit, as it turns out) and what’s fabricated (quite a bit more).

Speculators who haven’t been put off by bitcoin’s recent crash will enjoy this walk—well, run—on the wild side.

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2024

ISBN: 9781538721032

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

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THE FURY

More style than substance.

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Michaelides takes a literary turn in his latest novel, employing an unreliable narrator, the structure of classical drama, and a self-conscious eye to dismantling the locked-room mystery.

The novel starts off with a murder, and with seven people trapped on an isolated Greek island lashed by a "wild, unpredictable Greek wind." The narrator, soon established as Elliot Chase, then zooms out to address the reader directly, introducing the players—most importantly movie star Lana Farrar. We meet her husband, Jason Miller, her son, Leo, and her friend Kate Crosby, a theater actress. We learn about her rise to fame and her older first husband, Otto Krantz, a Hollywood producer. We learn about Kate’s possibly stalling career and Leo’s plan to apply to acting schools against his mother’s wishes. We learn about Jason’s obsession with guns. And in fragments and shards, we learn about Elliot: his painful childhood; his May–September relationship with an older female writer, now dead; his passion for the theater, where he learned “to change everything about [himself]” to fit in. Though he isn't present in every scene, he conveys each piece of the story leading up to the murder as if he were an omniscient narrator, capable of accessing every character's interior perspective. When he gets to the climax, there is, indeed, a shooting. There is, indeed, a motive. And there is, of course, a twist. The atmosphere of the novel, set mostly on this wild Greek island, echoes strongly the classical tragedies of Greece. The characters are types. The emotions are operatic. And the tragedy, of course, leads us to question the idea of fate. Michaelides seems also to be dipping into the world of Edgar Allan Poe, offering an unreliable narrator who feels more like a literary exercise. As an exploration of genre, it’s really quite fascinating. As a thriller, it’s not particularly surprising.

More style than substance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2024

ISBN: 9781250758989

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023

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