Fans of Travis McGee hungry for red-meat private-eye adventure will tune out the mystery and focus on the hero’s...

GUMSHOE ROCK

A fourth round of wisecracks, fisticuffs, come-ons, and the occasional homicide for Reno private eye Mort—only his mother called him Mortimer, and that was a mistake—Angel.

Clary Investigations, owned and operated by tough cookie Maude "Ma" Clary, has two cases on its current docket. Karen Galbraith wants the agency to find her runaway daughter, Megan, and CPA Evelyn Joss wants to know what Michael Volker, her junior partner, did with the $13,600 he withdrew from the company’s account. Ma and Lucy Landry, the ex-waitress who caught Mort’s eye and more in his last outing (Gumshoe on the Loose, 2018, etc.), find Megan Galbraith in record time. But the other case is trickier even though Volker hasn’t taken the trouble to run away; he just stammers and orders Mort out of his house when he’s asked about the missing funds. Evelyn Joss isn’t inclined to press too hard, but once Volker knows she’s onto him, she knows it won’t be long before the cops get involved and raise the stakes. That’s a pity, because Mort has already been dumped into what looks at first like a nonpaying case when he finds the skull of Ronald Soranden, the vanished head of the Northern Nevada IRS, in Lucy’s convertible. Fear not: Since Mort already has a nationwide reputation as a discoverer of high-profile corpses, it’s not long before IRS Commissioner William V. Munson dangles a fat consultancy fee before him if he can identify Soranden’s killer. Stopping by to pick up Lucy in Munson’s martini-fueled government jet (a nice touch for all concerned), Mort goes on the hunt, looking not so much to finger the perp, who turns out to be pretty unsurprising, but to find out why Soranden was worth killing, a question that turns out to be well worth asking.

Fans of Travis McGee hungry for red-meat private-eye adventure will tune out the mystery and focus on the hero’s effortlessly self-confident sex appeal, superhuman physical strength, and nice way with dialogue.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60809-330-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Oceanview

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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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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