Madden’s fourth case (The Dead of Winter, 2009, etc.) maintains Airth’s reputation for carefully constructed, highly...

THE RECKONING

John Madden comes out of retirement in post–World War II Britain to help solve a case from his past.

Hikers enjoying the countryside near the Sussex town of Lewes see a slightly built man in a red sweater approach Oswald Gibson as he’s enjoying a peaceful day of fishing. But no one sees when Gibson is ordered to kneel and is shot execution style, and no one sees the killer leave. Chief Inspector Detective Billy Styles orders a thorough investigation and police search, but the murderer seems to have vanished. Besides noting similarities between Gibson’s death and that of a doctor in Aberdeen, Styles finds a letter Gibson was writing to Scotland Yard to inquire about the whereabouts of John Madden, the former detective who taught Styles his trade. Madden doesn’t recognize Gibson from the photographs the murdered man’s brother shows him, and the only clue so far is that Gibson and the Scottish doctor were both shot with identical bullets, German-made with iron cores. The execution of a third man confirms the killer’s pattern of visiting the victims in advance, apparently to establish their identities before delivering the coup de grace. Then an entry in Gibson’s diary gives Madden the link he needs to the killer and to his own past: a tragic incident he tried and failed to prevent during World War I. Now he realizes he’s in search of someone skilled at deception and disguise and who won’t stop until all the parties involved pay for a long-ago injustice. Although the exposition, interspersed with scenes from Madden’s domestic life, is leisurely, momentum builds to a satisfying ending.

Madden’s fourth case (The Dead of Winter, 2009, etc.) maintains Airth’s reputation for carefully constructed, highly detailed plots. Although the hero doesn’t dominate the present-day action, his past involvement adds an emotional element to his determination to end the killings.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-670-78568-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more