An often engaging mystery from an author who will hopefully provide further series installments.



From the The Cliff Knowles Mysteries series , Vol. 6

A case of corporate espionage becomes violent in a new mystery from Atkinson (Cached Out, 2015, etc.) featuring recurring hero Cliff Knowles, a smart, scrappy FBI agent.

Cliff has traded in his badge for a quieter position as a licensed private investigator, and he hopes to settle down to a relatively normal life in California with his beloved wife, Ellen Kennedy, still an active FBI agent, and their infant son. He’s soon contacted by Silicon Valley company Advanced Photolithics, or APL which makes equipment for computer chip manufacturers. Business has been bad lately, and API executives fear that someone has stolen their proprietary drawings and is now undercutting their prices for replacement parts. But a murder may also be in the mix, as Cliff discovers that an employee for Belcher Industries, an API vendor in rural Utah, might have had information that led to his mysterious death. Cliff investigates in Utah with the help of his old friend, retired agent Tim Rothman, and soon winds up in danger himself. Ellen and her partner also get involved in the case; a side plot has Ellen performing a background check on a woman seeking to get a pardon for a decades-old crime, and it turns out that the woman had once attacked Cliff in a drunken rage. This second storyline is well-written but doesn’t fit in with the rest of the tale, even on a thematic level. Later, in a thrilling car chase, Cliff and Ellen go after one of the book’s most dangerous villains; however, Atkinson barely describes another important baddie, despite the fact that the person is the ringleader of the entire affair. The story as a whole is fast-moving and snappily plotted, and it includes some especially tense sequences, such as when Cliff evades a killer in the scorching Nevada desert. Atkinson deserves credit for taking a dry premise for a mystery—the stolen goods are, after all, drawings of gaskets and valves—and creating an enjoyable story.

An often engaging mystery from an author who will hopefully provide further series installments.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-5300-3940-1

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2016

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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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