by Philip Kerr ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 7, 2015
For setting, character, plot—and the ability to navigate a moral swamp—le Carré has a rival in Kerr.
Kerr (Field Gray, 2011, etc.) does moral ambiguity better than most; his flawed yet empathetic hero, Bernie Gunther, is a captain in the Nazi SD—Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführers, the SS’s feared intelligence service.
Once a police detective, and always a Nazi-hater, Gunther "got called back into service in thirty-eight. There wasn’t much he could do about it." Haunted, conscious of the moral swamp he navigated, Gunther worked for Heydrich until that devil was assassinated. Now, in Berlin, he’s being drafted into a scheme by Goebbels, Minister of Truth and Propaganda. Gunther must convince beautiful film star Dalia Dresner to return to Berlin moviemaking. However, Dresner demands Goebbels discover what happened to her estranged father, supposedly a priest in Yugoslavia. Kerr does yeoman work with scenes and settings in brave-new-world Berlin and other Nazi environs, then he drops Gunther into "total chaos"—the genocidal maelstrom that’s Croatia. In the murderous melee of Utaše fascist militia, Communist Partisans, royalist Chetniks killing each other—and any other living soul within rifle shot—Gunther’s guided by a burned-out SS captain, Geiger, who shoots first and asks no questions, all while philosophizing: "[T]hat’s what makes horror truly horrible. The knowledge that God sees it all, and does nothing." Gunther soldiers on, tracing Dalia’s father to Jasenovac, a slave labor camp. It’s back to Berlin, then Switzerland, where the United States enters the mix. Morose, sardonic, morally compromised Gunther—"There’s still a sliver of decency left in there"—falls in love with the beautiful Dalia, but happy endings are elusive for one of modern fiction’s more intriguing characters.For setting, character, plot—and the ability to navigate a moral swamp—le Carré has a rival in Kerr.
Pub Date: April 7, 2015
Page Count: 448
Publisher: Marian Wood/Putnam
Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015
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by Kathy Reichs ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2020
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
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020
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by James Patterson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 5, 2003
As in summer movies, a triple dose of violence conceals the absence of real menace when neither victims nor avengers stir...
Dr. Alex Cross has left Metro DC Homicide for the FBI, but it’s business as usual in this laughably rough-hewn fairy tale of modern-day white slavery.
According to reliable sources, more people are being sold into slavery than ever before, and it all seems to be going down on the FBI’s watch. Atlanta ex-reporter Elizabeth Connolly, who looks just like Claudia Schiffer, is the ninth target over the past two years to be abducted by a husband-and-wife pair who travel the country at the behest of the nefarious Pasha Sorokin, the Wolf of the Red Mafiya. The only clues are those deliberately left behind by the kidnappers, who snatch fashion designer Audrey Meek from the King of Prussia Mall in full view of her children, or patrons like Audrey’s purchaser, who ends up releasing her and killing himself. Who you gonna call? Alex Cross, of course. Even though he still hasn’t finished the Agency’s training course, all the higher-ups he runs into, from hardcases who trust him to lickspittles seething with envy, have obviously read his dossier (Four Blind Mice, 2002, etc.), and they know the new guy is “close to psychic,” a “one-man flying squad” who’s already a legend, “like Clarice Starling in the movies.” It’s lucky that Cross’s reputation precedes him, because his fond creator doesn’t give him much to do here but chase suspects identified by obliging tipsters and worry about his family (Alex Jr.’s mother, alarmed at Cross’s dangerous job, is suing for custody) while the Wolf and his cronies—Sterling, Mr. Potter, the Art Director, Sphinx, and the Marvel—kidnap more dishy women (and the occasional gay man) and kill everybody who gets in their way, and quite a few poor souls who don’t.As in summer movies, a triple dose of violence conceals the absence of real menace when neither victims nor avengers stir the slightest sympathy.
Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2003
Page Count: 400
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2003
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