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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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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