A taut murder tale that pits two enthralling black women against each other.


In this mystery, an Atlanta homicide detective sets out to prove a suspect is killing people with a biological agent.

Detective Aisha Sawyer has a theory about the death of record company executive Kendall “Trap” Miller and the perilous state of medical student Meegan Appleton, currently on life support. Sawyer believes someone used a biological agent as a weapon, as both victims were infected with rabies but had no bite marks on their bodies. The detective is certain the culprit is Trap’s ex-fiancee, Chosen. But Sgt. Jeffrey “Gil” Gilliam and even Sawyer’s partner, Detective Jeremy Travis, focus on Dr. Edward Cofield, who has the expertise as well as a rumored affair with Meegan. Chosen’s background, in contrast, is murky, including her real name. But she is full of surprises, starting with having the finances to become the majority shareholder of Trap’s hip-hop label, Hustle Hard Entertainment. She also entices Sawyer’s husband, Darius, the former member of a jazz band, The Elect, with a chance to record new music. It seems Chosen is trying to sidetrack the detective who’s unmistakably designated her as a murder suspect. Accordingly, Sawyer searches for evidence that Chosen is capable of stealthy, chemically induced crimes, which soon entail another killing and a disappearance. Both the protagonist and villain of Palmer’s (The Harvest, 2018, etc.) novel are, refreshingly, strong African American women. Sawyer never wavers in her determination to prove Chosen guilty; her certainty is not instinct, she says, but rather “metaphysical intelligence.” Meanwhile, people (mostly men) underestimate Chosen, who quickly amasses power as a company owner. Though the tale eventually reveals whether or not Chosen is a killer, mysteries remain, such as her unknown past. Nevertheless, the author focuses on searing melodrama, complicating characters’ lives, with Sawyer suspecting Darius of infidelity and the story disclosing her history with Travis, whose life she once saved. These subplots help generate a brisk narrative that moves readers all the way to a twisty ending that’s odd but juicy, and the concluding “To be continued” guarantees a sequel.

A taut murder tale that pits two enthralling black women against each other.

Pub Date: May 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73396-330-5

Page Count: 332

Publisher: Black Wren Press

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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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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