Pecora is no Raymond Chandler and Cody Thomas is no Philip Marlowe, but this debut detective novel bodes well for Pecora’s...


In this mystery novel, Cody Thomas, private eye, tries to find the real murderer and clear his accused wife, with not a moment to lose.

Pecora, a first-time mystery writer, contrives an effective noir scene to open his story of death and deception. Cody, ex-cop and now private detective, has bugged an adjoining room in a sleazy hotel and is listening in the dark, in the small hours. The sounds—giggling, bed creaking, passionate moaning—indicate an assignation. Then he hears drunken snoring and gets just a glimpse of a young woman walking away down the corridor. No big deal, until the creep, Samuel Hollowell, is found dead the next morning, tied naked to the bed. Cody turns the tape over to his old partner, Lt. Andy Perone, whom he knows to be honest and who happens to be heading up the investigation. The hunt is on—and, it seems, soon over: Cody’s wife, Joanna, confesses to him that she was the mystery woman at the hotel. Now, as the bodies pile up—someone is knocking off those who might spell trouble—Cody has to solve the case to clear his stir-crazy wife amid well-founded marital insecurity. The well-handled tension serves as the narrative’s strongest dynamic, even though Joanna’s reason for being in the hotel room seems rather forced. When Cody and his lawyer manage to get Joanna released on bond, there’s another killing, and Joanna gets hauled back in. Perhaps Joanna is innocent after all, but then who’s the real killer? Pecora admirably weaves the twisty plot that’s as much about Cody’s overwhelming doubt—of his wife’s fidelity, of a police department that he knows is corruptible—as it is about simply solving the murders. Description and dialogue are often overwrought or stiff, though, but the conclusion is well-handled.

Pecora is no Raymond Chandler and Cody Thomas is no Philip Marlowe, but this debut detective novel bodes well for Pecora’s future.

Pub Date: June 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1466944268

Page Count: 284

Publisher: Trafford

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2012

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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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No wonder Scarpetta asks, “When did my workplace become such a soap opera?” Answer: at least 10 years ago.


Happy birthday, Dr. Kay Scarpetta. But no Florida vacation for you and your husband, FBI profiler Benton Wesley—not because President Barack Obama is visiting Cambridge, but because a deranged sniper has come to town.

Shortly after everyone’s favorite forensic pathologist (Dust, 2013, etc.) receives a sinister email from a correspondent dubbed Copperhead, she goes outside to find seven pennies—all polished, all turned heads-up, all dated 1981—on her garden wall. Clearly there’s trouble afoot, though she’s not sure what form it will take until five minutes later, when a call from her old friend and former employee Pete Marino, now a detective with the Cambridge Police, summons her to the scene of a shooting. Jamal Nari was a high school music teacher who became a minor celebrity when his name was mistakenly placed on a terrorist watch list; he claimed government persecution, and he ended up having a beer with the president. Now he’s in the news for quite a different reason. Bizarrely, the first tweets announcing his death seem to have preceded it by 45 minutes. And Leo Gantz, a student at Nari’s school, has confessed to his murder, even though he couldn’t possibly have done it. But these complications are only the prelude to a banquet of homicide past and present, as Scarpetta and Marino realize when they link Nari’s murder to a series of killings in New Jersey. For a while, the peripheral presence of the president makes you wonder if this will be the case that finally takes the primary focus off the investigator’s private life. But most of the characters are members of Scarpetta’s entourage, the main conflicts involve infighting among the regulars, and the killer turns out to be a familiar nemesis Scarpetta thought she’d left for dead several installments back. As if.

No wonder Scarpetta asks, “When did my workplace become such a soap opera?” Answer: at least 10 years ago.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-232534-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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