A suavely sturdy suspenser, first published in the UK in 2005, that manages better than most Goddards to lead its...

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SIGHT UNSEEN

Twenty three years after an unsolved kidnapping, an anonymous letter reopens a case involving the latest in Goddard’s long line of innocent, compromised bystanders.

July 27, 1981. David Umber, a graduate student at Cambridge whose project is identifying the 18th-century whistle-blower known only as Junius, has gone to the town of Avebury to meet a man named Griffin, who’s promised him a peek at an old edition of Junius’s correspondence with a remarkable inscription. Griffin never shows up, so Umber is sitting alone watching in stupefaction when someone snatches two-year-old Tamsin Hall from Sally Wilkinson, her nanny, and runs over Tamsin’s sister Miranda, seven, when she gives chase. Drawn together by their shocked inability to prevent the tragedy, Umber and Sally become lovers, then spouses, then exes, before Sally’s death in 1999. All’s well that ends ill until George Sharp, the retired Chief Inspector once in charge of the case, turns up in Prague to pluck Umber from his lecturing stint and cart him back to Avebury. Sharp’s received a letter urging him to revisit the case—a letter signed “Junius” that consists entirely of cut-and-paste excerpts from Junius’s letters. The hook is irresistible, and so is the delicious thrill of watching Umber, like many other Goddard heroes (Play to the End, 2006, etc.), get led by the nose by every witness he interviews—the surviving Halls, Sally’s therapist and best friend, a private eye who’s been working the case for over 20 years—till he’s cut loose from Sharp and dropped through a series of trap doors. The sense of urbane paranoia is skillfully maintained through one mind-boggling surprise after another. Only the final revelation is a letdown.

A suavely sturdy suspenser, first published in the UK in 2005, that manages better than most Goddards to lead its well-meaning hero through ever more insidious snares without making him look like a complete fool.

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2007

ISBN: 0-440-24280-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delta

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2006

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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