Now that his detective-hero Spenser has become such an earnest, predictable character, one looks forward to Parker's second non-Spenser novel—only to find that this short tale of obsessive-love-triumphant does little more than recycle the least attractive aspects of the Spenser persona. The narrator, whose name and plain/purple prose-style suggest a case of Hemingway-itis, is Boone Adams—an undergraduate at 1951 Colby College (Maine) who loses his virginity with a townie but falls madly in love with classmate Jennifer Grayle. And when Jennifer at last responds, dumping her latest boyfriend for Boone's devotion, "Steadiness surged through me, it suffused me, it warmed and solidified my soul and all things were possible and nothing was fearsome." Then, however, would-be writer Boone is expelled (bad grades, bad attitude), drafted to Korea, and Dear-Johnned by Jennifer, who decides to marry rich, handsome John Merchent from Cornell. "Not yet twenty-two, I had loved and lost and my life was without further purpose. And there was so much of it left, a paralyzing long time of it still to go." So, in a brief interlude reminiscent of bygone, corny Hollywood-montage, Boone goes on the skids for a few years—from job to job, across the country, boozing it up, falling apart. . . till he pulls himself together in California: he saves some money; he reads a lot; he gets into bodybuilding à la Spenser. But he never has gotten over Jennifer. (A casual girlfriend gushes: "What you are doing. . . is really quite remarkable. It is the most committed act of will I've ever seen. What you're doing. . . is you're becoming worthy of her.") And so Boone heads back East, getting assorted degrees on the campus where Jennifer and her prof-husband both teach: he quietly re-woos her, impresses her with his echt-Spenser catchwords ("autonomous," "code of behavior"). . . and wins her at last, as his prose adds some imitation-Faulkner to the imitation-Hemingway. (. . . "I felt myself unclench, and my spirit burgeoned spread throughout me and mingled with her perfume and her heat and the weakness was gone and I pressed her against me with the unbestowed strength of a silent quarter-century feeling her press back and feeling my soul begin at last to romp with hers in new created pastures where eternity shimmered before us and time, just begun, was ours forever.") Despite a few nicely wry vignettes along the way: dismayingly thin, self-indulgent work—from a gifted writer whose talent keeps seeping away into narcissism and sentimentality.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1983

ISBN: 0440146291

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1983

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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

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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A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...


Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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