Hannah (Closed Casket, 2016, etc.) continues her quest to identify all the reassuring certitudes mystery novels take for...

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KEEP HER SAFE

Overwhelmed by complications arising from her unplanned third pregnancy, a Hertfordshire housewife flees her home for the comforts of an upscale Arizona resort and lands smack in the middle of a fictionalization of the JonBenét Ramsey case, which quickly swallows her up.

Patrick Burrows is a good provider and a good man, but he really doesn’t want any more children. So Cara Burrows runs away from home—there’s no better way to put it—and sinks a third of the family’s savings into a two-week stay at the Swallowtail Resort and Spa, which feels like the capital of “America: Land of Hyperbolic Overstatement.” In a place dedicated to fulfilling her every whim, night clerk Riyonna Briggs accidentally gives her a key to the wrong room, and the conversation she overhears from the bathroom she thinks is her own plunges her into the case of Melody Chapa, whose parents were convicted of her murder in Philadelphia seven years ago even though her body was never found. Cara becomes convinced that the girl she overheard is Melody, and she’s not the only one: regular guest Lilith McNair has been announcing sightings of Melody every year even though nobody pays any attention. Will anyone pay attention to Cara? Tearful Riyonna is no help; the rest of the Swallowtail staff treats Cara to a series of simpering brushoffs; and Lilith McNair seems even crazier in their sole one-on-one conversation. Only sharp-tongued florist Tarin Fry and Zellie, her daughter and sparring partner, take Cara seriously, and their interest doesn’t prevent either Riyonna or Cara from vanishing as competing parties—the variously compromised local cops, the FBI, the TV host of Justice with Bonnie who played a key role in getting Naldo and Annette Chapa convicted all those years ago—paw the ground and look accusingly at each other while Cara’s peril deepens.

Hannah (Closed Casket, 2016, etc.) continues her quest to identify all the reassuring certitudes mystery novels take for granted and demonstrate how much fun it is to toss them overboard. There’s no point in objecting to the coincidences and implausibilities required to launch this brilliant nightmare: resistance is futile.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-238832-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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