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From the Detective Matt Jones series , Vol. 2

A persistently gripping thriller with strong characters.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

A Los Angeles detective heads to the East Coast to help the FBI track down a serial killer in this sequel.

Weeks after Detective Matt Jones survives an assassination attempt, his supervisor calls him back to work. It seems Dr. George Baylor, a serial killer from one of Matt’s cases, has murdered a family just outside Philadelphia. Though the crime doesn’t match Baylor’s M.O., cops discovered his fingerprints at the scene. Matt joins an FBI task force and works closely with agent Kate Brown. At the same time, he’s contemplating revenge against the culprit who hired the hit man. Unfortunately, Matt’s investigation is complicated by his certainty that several people are withholding information, and he furthermore spots someone regularly following him. But the murder of a second family and an encounter with an armed Baylor ultimately convince Matt that the doctor isn’t the killer—at least not in the Philadelphia area. But some of those taking part in the probe keep Baylor as the No. 1 suspect even when later evidence counters that theory. Matt picks up startling details, including the reason for his inclusion on the task force as well as specifics on his murky family history, but he’s steadfast in hunting a killer. Ellis (City of Echoes, 2015, etc.) eases new readers into the second Matt-centric novel (although he spoils some of the first installment’s twists). Having previously suffered betrayal, Matt has good reason to be paranoid, which results in a gleefully tense sequel as he quickly notices someone watching him. His relationships are complex: There’s potential romance with Kate, but the two must remain professional, and Baylor is apparently more intent on aiding Matt than harming him. Despite such intricacies, the mystery is straightforward, and Matt’s propensity for repeatedly asking himself questions keeps him (and readers) focused. The author’s writing is tight but descriptive. Though the prose is never unduly graphic, some of the murderer’s actions will likely make some readers queasy. The ending effectively sets the stage for the next installment.

A persistently gripping thriller with strong characters.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5039-5274-4

Page Count: 362

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2019


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


As in summer movies, a triple dose of violence conceals the absence of real menace when neither victims nor avengers stir...

Dr. Alex Cross has left Metro DC Homicide for the FBI, but it’s business as usual in this laughably rough-hewn fairy tale of modern-day white slavery.

According to reliable sources, more people are being sold into slavery than ever before, and it all seems to be going down on the FBI’s watch. Atlanta ex-reporter Elizabeth Connolly, who looks just like Claudia Schiffer, is the ninth target over the past two years to be abducted by a husband-and-wife pair who travel the country at the behest of the nefarious Pasha Sorokin, the Wolf of the Red Mafiya. The only clues are those deliberately left behind by the kidnappers, who snatch fashion designer Audrey Meek from the King of Prussia Mall in full view of her children, or patrons like Audrey’s purchaser, who ends up releasing her and killing himself. Who you gonna call? Alex Cross, of course. Even though he still hasn’t finished the Agency’s training course, all the higher-ups he runs into, from hardcases who trust him to lickspittles seething with envy, have obviously read his dossier (Four Blind Mice, 2002, etc.), and they know the new guy is “close to psychic,” a “one-man flying squad” who’s already a legend, “like Clarice Starling in the movies.” It’s lucky that Cross’s reputation precedes him, because his fond creator doesn’t give him much to do here but chase suspects identified by obliging tipsters and worry about his family (Alex Jr.’s mother, alarmed at Cross’s dangerous job, is suing for custody) while the Wolf and his cronies—Sterling, Mr. Potter, the Art Director, Sphinx, and the Marvel—kidnap more dishy women (and the occasional gay man) and kill everybody who gets in their way, and quite a few poor souls who don’t.

As in summer movies, a triple dose of violence conceals the absence of real menace when neither victims nor avengers stir the slightest sympathy.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2003

ISBN: 0-316-60290-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2003

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