The third and most satisfying entry in an excellent series of old-school spy thrillers.

THE ENDS OF THE EARTH

The sins of the fathers are visited upon the sons in the climax of this post–WWI historical thriller series by Goddard (The Corners of the Globe, 2016, etc.).

After teasing readers with cliffhangers in The Ways of the World (2015) and The Corners of the Globe (2016), Goddard finally makes good by unraveling the mysteries that perplexed his flying ace–turned-spy, James “Max” Maxted. To recap, undercover agent Max is fighting a secret war on two fronts circa 1919. First, he’s trying to ferret out German spymaster Fritz Lemmer’s network of agents embedded across Europe and Great Britain. Second, but more important, Max wants to find out why his diplomat father was murdered in Japan, with all leads pointing to vicious gangster Count Tomura Iwazu. Max, sorry to say, is dead as the book opens—his buddies Sam Twentyman and Malory Hollander, among others, have received a photo of Max with a bullet in his head in Marseilles. The body count just piles up from there as killer assassins and other dangerous opponents come into play and Max’s team must outwit, outfight, and outlast their enemies. Goddard’s first two entries were relatively sedate affairs focused on the tradecraft of gentlemen spies and the decorum of societal diplomacy. Thankfully, he delivers a lot more action here as a resurfaced Max and his allies work to outsmart Lemmer, survive a cruel and dangerous postwar Japan, and discover a secret that Count Tomura has kept locked away for decades. It’s a surprising twist but one that takes quite a lot of narrative maneuvers and a few unlikely kidnappings to achieve. Nonetheless, Goddard has crafted a thrilling entry to tie up most of his loose ends, although he’s left himself enough room to continue the series if he so wishes. By the time Max and Sam head back into the wild blue yonder, this spy story has reached new heights as well.

The third and most satisfying entry in an excellent series of old-school spy thrillers.

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2656-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Mysterious Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once...

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

In Baldacci’s 19th (True Blue, 2009, etc.), boy and girl monster-hunters meet cute.

Evan Waller, aka Fadir Kuchin, aka “the Butcher of Kiev,” aka “the Ukrainian psychopath,” is one of those deep-dyed villains a certain kind of fiction can’t do without. Serving with distinction as part of the Soviet Union’s KGB, he joyfully and indiscriminately killed thousands. Now, many years later, posing as a successful businessman, he’s vacationing in Provence where, unbeknownst to him, two separate clandestine operations are being mounted by people who do not regard him with favor. Reggie Campion—28 and gorgeous—spearheads the first, an ad hoc group of monster-hunting vigilantes. Studly, tall Shaw (no first name supplied) is point guard for a rival team, shadowy enough to leave the matter of its origin ambiguous. While their respective teams reconnoiter and jockey for position, studly boy meets gorgeous girl. Monster-hunters are famous for having trust issues, but clearly these are drawn to each other in the time-honored Hollywood fashion. Shaw saves Reggie’s life. She returns the favor. The attraction deepens and heats up to the point where team-members on both sides grow unsettled by the loss of focus, singularly inopportune since, as monsters go, Waller rises to the second coming of Caligula—ample testimony furnished by a six-page, unsparingly detailed torture scene. In the end, the stalkers strike, bullets fly, screams curdle the blood, love has its innings and a monster does what a monster’s got to do.

The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once again show the stuff it’s made of.

Pub Date: April 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-446-56408-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Avon A/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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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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