Has the bones of a good-enough story, but the battle between the franchise hero and the bogeyman, swathed in...

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PACIFIC HEIGHTS

Thriller veteran David Lindsey (The Face of the Assassin, 2004, etc.) kicks off this pseudonymous new series with the surprisingly glossy account of a sexual predator with a talent for getting inside his partners’ fantasies.

Trophy wife Elise Currin can’t imagine how her lover Ray Kern can divine her darkest secrets. The sex is mind-blowing but scary. So is the idea that Ray knows everything she’s ever thought. Lore Cha feels the same way about Philip Krey, who takes her places she’s never gone and isn’t sure she’ll ever come back from. Most distressed of all, however, is Vera List, the widowed psychotherapist who treats both women, who don’t know each other, and who’s convinced that the two preternaturally sensitive lovers are one and the same, and that whoever he is, he’s getting the lowdown on them in a much more prosaic way: by breaking into Vera’s case files. Shaken, she consults Marten Fane, an ex–San Francisco cop who assures her that he’s not a private detective: “There’s no job description for what I do.” He in turn brings in his colleagues Roma Solís, formerly of Colombia’s Policía Nacional; counter-surveillance specialist Jon Bücher; and Bobby Noble, whose job at Virtual Marketing Research has nothing to do with marketing research. Together they plot to bring down the predator who’s actually Ryan Kroll, a former CIA interrogator now with Vector Strategies, and whose long-range plan is a good deal more sinister than seducing and tormenting the best-looking women in the Bay Area.

Has the bones of a good-enough story, but the battle between the franchise hero and the bogeyman, swathed in self-seriousness, suffers from a serious absence of real menace beneath the inflated descriptions.

Pub Date: July 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9393-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

CROOKED RIVER

FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast finds evil afoot in his latest action-filled adventure (Verses for the Dead, 2018, etc.).

Imagine Florida beachcombers’ shock when they discover a shoe with a severed foot inside. Soon they see dozens more feet, all in identical shoes, bobbing toward the beach. Police and FBI ultimately count more than a hundred of them washing up on Sanibel and Captiva Islands' tranquil shores. Pendergast teams up with the junior Special Agent Armstrong Coldmoon to investigate this strange phenomenon. Oceanographers use a supercomputer to analyze Gulf currents and attempt to determine where the feet entered the ocean. Were they dumped off a ship or an island? Does each one represent a homicide? Analysts examine chemical residues and pollen, even the angle of each foot’s amputation, but the puzzle defies all explanation. Attention focuses on Cuba, where “something terrible was happening” in front of a coastal prison, and on China, the apparent source of the shoes. The clever plot is “a most baffling case indeed” for the brilliant Pendergast, but it’s the type of problem he thrives on. He’s hardly a stereotypical FBI agent, given for example his lemon-colored silk suit, his Panama hat, and his legendary insistence on working alone—until now. Pendergast rarely blinks—perhaps, someone surmises, he’s part reptile. But equally odd is Constance Greene, his “extraordinarily beautiful,” smart, and sarcastic young “ward” who has “eyes that had seen everything and, as a result, were surprised by nothing.” Coldmoon is more down to earth: part Lakota, part Italian, and “every inch a Fed.” Add in murderous drug dealers, an intrepid newspaper reporter, coyotes crossing the U.S.–Mexico border, and a pissed-off wannabe graphic novelist, and you have a thoroughly entertaining cast of characters. There is plenty of suspense, and the action gets bloody.

Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4725-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

ONE GOOD DEED

Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

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