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



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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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.


A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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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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