No one can con a con like an ex-con with a good heart and even better friends.

SIDEWALK SAINT

A car thief–turned-agent for Florida Child Protective Services defends an 11-year-old girl from a wide array of predators.

There’s nothing like a gun in your face to wake you up from a dream about your Aunt Shayna’s brisket, as Foggy Moscowitz discovers one morning in 1976. Nelson Roan, the man behind the gun, has broken out of prison to find his daughter, Etta, and he needs help from Foggy. Fry’s Bay is a long way from Brooklyn, where Foggy grew up, and his current job for the state under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act is a big change from his former career of boosting cars. But it’s Foggy’s way of making amends for his criminal past. The next morning, Roan is gone, but Foggy’s still determined to find Etta, who has an eidetic memory, apparently knows something that a good many other people would like to know, and has been adopted by a couple who may not have her best interests at heart. A few secret messages from Etta, including one on her dog’s collar, lead Foggy to the child, who’s a person of such interest to mobsters from both Manhattan and Montreal as well as a couple of dirty cops and the FBI that Foggy decides to stash her with his friend John Horse, the tribal boss of the local Seminoles. Added to a flourishing marijuana trade, a casino venture, Etta’s father’s recent murder of the doctor who treated Etta’s mother, a switch of identities in the local hospital, and the possibility that at least two of the people in the fray aren’t who they say they are is the ongoing mystery of what Etta knows that puts her life at such risk. For all his craftiness, it’s hard work for Foggy, even with Aunt Shayna’s intervention, to stay one step ahead in his brisk and wryly funny fourth caper (Icepick, 2018, etc.).

No one can con a con like an ex-con with a good heart and even better friends.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7278-8957-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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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POP GOES THE WEASEL

After a flight in fantasy with When the Wind Blows (1998), Patterson goes to ground with another slash-and-squirm psychokiller page-turner, this one dedicated to “the millions of Alex Cross readers, who so frequently ask, can’t you write faster?” By day, Geoffrey Shafer is a charming, 42-year-old British Embassy paper-pusher with a picture-perfect family and a shady past as an MI-6 secret agent. Come sundown, he swallows a pharmacy of psychoactive pills, gulps three black coffees loaded with sugar, and roams the streets of Washington, D.C., in a battered cab, where, disguised as a black man, he rolls dice to determine which among his black female fares he—ll murder. Afterwards he dumps his naked victims in crime-infested back alleys of black- slum neighborhoods, then sends e-mails boasting of his accomplishments to three other former MI-6 agents involved in a hellish Internet role-playing game. “I sensed I was at the start of another homicide mess,” sighs forensic-psychologist turned homicide-detective Alex Cross. Cross yearns to catch the “Jane Doe murderer” but is thwarted by Det. Chief George Pittman, who assigns sexy Det. Patsy Hampton to investigate Cross and come up with a reason for dismissing him. Meanwhile, Cross’s fiancÇe is kidnaped during a Bermuda vacation, and an anonymous e-mail warns him to back off. He doesn’t, of course, and just when it appears that Patterson is sleep-walking through his story, Cross nabs Shafer minutes after Shafer kills Det. Hampton. During the subsequent high-visibility trail, Shafer manages to make the jury believe that he’s innocent and that Cross was trying to frame him. When all seems lost, a sympathetic British intelligence chief offers to help Cross bring down Shafer, and the other homicidal game-players, during a showdown on the breezy beaches of Jamaica. Kinky mayhem, a cartoonish villain, regular glimpses of the kindly Cross caring for his loved ones, and an ending that spells a sequel: Patterson’s fans couldn’t ask for more.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-69328-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1999

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