THE BONES OF AVALON

Catholics, Protestants, faeries, torture and love during the reign of Elizabeth I.

Elizabeth, superstitious and chary of a prediction promising disaster unless she can find and bring King Arthur’s bones to a glorious resting place, sends Robert Dudley, Master of the Horse (and perhaps her lover), and Dr. John Dee, scholar and astronomer, off to Glastonbury, purportedly the site of Arthur’s burial place, although his bones disappeared when Cromwell had the abbey destroyed. Traveling incognito as the Queen’s Commission on Antiquities, Dudley is felled by fever, and Dr. Dee runs afoul of Sir Edmund Fyche, who through lies and treachery oversaw the execution of herbalist Cate Borrow, and now seems determined to have her daughter Eleanor hanged as a witch. The lives of both women were entwined with the work of mad geographer John Leland, whose lost writings about a terrestrial Zodiac may hold the key to Arthur’s burial place. But Dr. Dee’s obsession with saving Eleanor and the quest for those bones is stymied not only by the usual Francophiles seething with distaste for Elizabeth but also by Benlow the Bone-Man, who sells fake relics; Fyche’s cruel son Stephen, who thrills in maiming his adversaries; Joan Tyrre and the faerie folk gathering on the Tor; and anthrax, the fatal wool-sorter’s disease. While contending with demons both mystical and real, Dr. Dee uncovers a plot masterminded by the seer Nostradame to turn Elizabeth’s heritage and gullibility against her. Rickman, who’s wending his way through Welsh history, myth and mores (the Merrily Watkins series), revisits many of the real-life characters he wrote of in The Chalice (1997, etc.) with admirable scholarship and verve, making a John Dee sequel something to look forward to.  

 

Pub Date: June 21, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-67238-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more