A captivating account of a boy’s friendship with a charismatic loner who may be much more than he seems; an enticing,...

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My Name is Cinnamon

A man reflects on the remarkable best friend he had when he was a boy in Istanbul.

Tarsin, the eloquent, self-effacing narrator of Neco’s (Survivor, 2016, etc.) novel, was born the son of a poor farmer a day’s journey from the teeming metropolis of Istanbul. During a time of economic hardship, his father sends him to the city and Tarsin finds himself abandoned there, sleeping in a park and wondering what to do. He’s saved by a young boy named Eşref, who takes him to a nearby “yuva,” a state-run home for abandoned children, where Tarsin soon fits in with the rest of the kids and comes to forget his old life and embrace his new one. Foremost among the things he likes is Eşref himself, who becomes Tarsin’s best friend. (“He was my brother, my father, and my mother,” Tarsin tells readers. “He was my life.”) The bulk of Tarsin’s reminiscences dwell on the exotic freedom and wonder of boys exploring Istanbul (“a gigantic Turkish rug, layers of intrigue, tradition and warmth”) and coming to know each other. In time, Eşref confesses to Tarsin that he’s half-djinn, possessed of wild magic that allows him to sense and alleviate the crushing loneliness felt by so many people in the big city. Eşref’s quiet conviction on the point is counterbalanced by the later revelations of his blithe, cynical mother about the abuse he may have suffered at the hands of her boorish lover. By the time the much-older Tarsin is telling these stories, all of the facts have blurred with nostalgia. Likewise readers are never quite sure what store to place in Tarsin’s repeated hints that Eşref may have killed people—this is one of a handful of undeveloped plot elements in the narrative (the touching student-teacher relationship between Eşref and a retired literature professor is also left a bit sketchy). The pages brim with atmospheric details about life in Istanbul, and the simple joys of young friendship are captured beautifully, but the book’s actual tale can feel at times under-told.

A captivating account of a boy’s friendship with a charismatic loner who may be much more than he seems; an enticing, page-turning read.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5084-1871-9

Page Count: 246

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2016

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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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THE MIDNIGHT CLUB

Patterson's thrillers (Virgin, 1980; Black Market, 1986) have plummeted in quality since his promising debut in The Thomas Berryman Number (1976)—with this latest being the sorriest yet: a clanky and witless policer about a criminal mastermind and the cop sworn to take him down. Aside from watching sympathetic homicide dick John ("Stef") Stefanovich comeing to terms with a wheelchair-bound life—legacy of a shotgun blast to the back by drug-and-gun-running archfiend Alexandre St.-Germain—the major interest here lies in marvelling at the author's trashing of fiction convention. The whopper comes early: although St.-Germain is explicity described as being machine-gunned to death by three vigilante cops in a swank brothel (". . .a submachine gun blast nearly ripped off the head of Alexandre St.-Germain"; "The mobster's head and most of his neck had been savaged by the machine-gun volley. The body looked desecrated. . ."), before you know it this latter-day Moriarty is stepping unscathed out of an airplane. What gives? Authorial cheating, that's what—thinly glossed over with some mumbling later on about a "body double." Not that St.-Germain's ersatz death generated much suspense anyway, with subsequent action focusing on, among other items, the gory killings of assorted mob bosses by one of the vigilante cops, and Stef's viewing of pornographic tapes confiscated from that brothel. But readers generous enough to plod on will get to read about the newly Lazarus-ized St.-Germain's crass efforts to revitalize and consolidate the world's crime syndicates ("the Midnight Club"), Stef's predictable tumble for a sexy true-crime writer, and how (isn't one miracle enough for Patterson?) at book's end Stef walks again and gets to embrace a rogue cop who's murdered several people. Ironsides with a badge and a lobotomy.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 1988

ISBN: 0446676411

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1988

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