STRANGER IN PARADISE

Parker at his worst. As the body count rises among competing factions, Jesse and Crow take turns exchanging Zenlike...

Parker’s second-string hero, police chief Jesse Stone (High Profile, 2007, etc.), moves deeper into Spenser territory, for better or worse, when he tangos with an adversary-turned-ally who’s as tough and laconic as he is.

Ten years ago, a violent, determined gang of crooks cut off Stiles Island from the rest of Paradise, Mass., took the residents hostage, killed some of them and robbed the rest. Now, as if he’s been waiting for the statute of limitations to expire, Wilson Cromartie, last seen speeding off with millions of dollars, has returned to the scene of the crime. He hasn’t come to gloat, he assures Jesse in a courtesy call, but to find someone. Not that it matters, because none of Crow’s earlier victims, Jesse quickly ascertains, is willing to testify against him on the chance of linking him to a capital crime. Instead, Jesse plans to keep an eye on Crow, who claims to be an Apache warrior, and see what happens. What happens is that the former hit man rapidly tracks down Amber Francisco, 14, at the request of her father, a moneyed South Florida racketeer. Though the girl, a potty-mouthed Lolita whose sex partners include gangbanger Esteban Carty and his comrades in the Horn Street Boys, is no prize, Louis Francisco wants her back and her mother dead. But Apache warriors have their standards, and Crow, who’s already shot one of the Horn Street contingent, refuses to kill any women; as subsequent events demonstrate, he’d much rather sleep with them. So Francisco gets on the phone and hires the surviving Horn Street Boys to kill mom and return his daughter, and Crow quixotically decides to join forces with Jesse to protect Amber.

Parker at his worst. As the body count rises among competing factions, Jesse and Crow take turns exchanging Zenlike aphorisms to cover their lack of motivation for behaving like a pair of loose cannons.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-399-15460-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2007

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A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

KILLING FLOOR

From the Jack Reacher series , Vol. 1

Welcome to Margrave, Georgia—but don't get too attached to the townsfolk, who are either in on a giant conspiracy, or hurtling toward violent deaths, or both. There's not much of a welcome for Jack Reacher, a casualty of the Army's peace dividend, who's drifted into town idly looking for traces of a long-dead black jazzman. Not only do the local cops arrest him for murder, but the chief of police turns eyewitness to place him on the scene, even though Reacher was getting on a bus in Tampa at the time. Two surprises follow: The murdered man wasn't the only victim, and he was Reacher's brother Joe, whom he hadn't seen in seven years. So Reacher, who so far hasn't had anything personally against the crooks who set him up for a weekend in the state pen at Warburton, clicks into overdrive. Banking on the help of the only two people in Margrave he can trust—a Harvard-educated chief of detectives who hasn't been on the job long enough to be on the take, and a smart, scrappy officer who's taken him to her bed—he sets out methodically in his brother's footsteps, trying to figure out why his cellmate in Warburton, a panicky banker whose cell-phone number turned up in Joe's shoe, confessed to a murder he obviously didn't commit; trying to figure out why all the out-of- towners on Joe's list of recent contacts were as dead as he was; and trying to stop the local carnage, or at least direct it in more positive ways. Though the testosterone flows as freely as printer's ink, Reacher is an unobtrusively sharp detective in his quieter moments—not that there are many of them to judge by. Despite the crude, tough-naif narration, debut novelist Child serves up a big, rangy plot, menace as palpable as a ticking bomb, and enough battered corpses to make an undertaker grin.

Pub Date: March 17, 1997

ISBN: 0-399-14253-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1997

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