The results are professional, even exhaustive, but uninspired, with the unmasking of the nondescript culprit a particular...


Detective Tracy Crosswhite goes after the killer who’s hogtying Seattle’s exotic dancers and watching them strangle themselves to death.

Still raw from the retrial of the leading suspect in her long-dead sister Sarah’s murder back in Cedar Grove (My Sister’s Grave, 2014), Tracy has rejoined the Violent Crime Squad just in time to catch the case of Angela Schreiber, a dancer at the Pink Palace who was strangled in a hotel room she’d rented by the hour. The scene bears an uncomfortable similarity to the death scene of Nicole Hansen, a performer at Dancing Bare, whose case Tracy’s boss, Capt. Johnny Nolasco, had taken from her and palmed off on Cold Cases after only a month. Tracy, who’s just received a noose from an anonymous donor, soon realizes that both cases also recall the murder of Beth Stinson, a bookkeeper who was strangled with a noose nine years ago in her North Seattle home. Clearly the Violent Crime Squad is up against a serial killer. None of them wants to use that phrase to the press because of the hysteria it would incite—except for Nolasco, who repeatedly leaks inside information to TV reporter Maria Vanpelt, dubs the perp the Cowboy Killer, and does everything he can to whip up public frenzy and undermine Tracy. Dugoni pulls out all the stops. He parades a lineup of suspects that includes a rancher’s son, a fly-tying expert, and a man who likes to wear cowboy boots. He has Tracy go off on an unauthorized investigation with her lover, lawyer Dan O’Leary. He shows the Cowboy Killer striking again and again. He puts Tracy squarely in the danger zone so that the only question is whether she’ll be drummed off the force before she’s strangled herself.

The results are professional, even exhaustive, but uninspired, with the unmasking of the nondescript culprit a particular letdown. It all reads like an expansive anthology of genre scenes you’ve encountered a hundred times before.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5039-4502-9

Page Count: 450

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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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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