Despite the names and dates, this authorized sequel will remind you less of Christie, whose strengths are very different...

THE MONOGRAM MURDERS

Hercule Poirot, last spotted in Charles Osborne’s novelization Black Coffee (1998), returns from retirement to investigate a triple poisoning in 1929 London.

It doesn’t take long for Poirot to realize why the woman he encounters in Pleasant’s Coffee House is all in a dither. She’s afraid that she’s about to be killed, and she can’t bring herself to run from her killer, since death is no more than she deserves. She flees before he can pin her down to specifics, but he soon links her to three deaths at the nearby Bloxham Hotel. Each of the guests—retired lawyer Richard Negus, his former fiancee, Ida Gransbury, and their old friend Harriet Sippel—arrived separately the day before; each was poisoned with cyanide, then neatly laid out on the floor; and each is found with a monogrammed cufflink in his or her mouth shortly after someone turns in a note to the Bloxham’s front desk with their three room numbers and the epitaph, “MAY THEY NEVER REST IN PEACE.” Clearly this triple homicide has roots too deep for Poirot’s temporary housemate, Detective Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard, to fathom. So Poirot attaches himself to the case, uncovering evidence about the victims’ shared past in a village scandal 16 years ago, alternately lecturing and hectoring Catchpool, and sounding very little like Agatha Christie’s legendary sleuth except for the obligatory French tags. Hannah, a specialist in psychological suspense (The Orphan Choir, 2014, etc.), would seem an odd choice for the job of resurrecting Poirot. The main strengths she brings to her task are a formidable ingenuity and a boundless appetite for reviewing the same evidence over and over again. The herrings-within-herrings denouement, which goes on for 100 pages, hovers between tour de force and unintentional farce.

Despite the names and dates, this authorized sequel will remind you less of Christie, whose strengths are very different from Hannah’s, than of the dozens of other pastiches of golden age detective fiction among which it takes its place.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-229721-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

No wonder Scarpetta asks, “When did my workplace become such a soap opera?” Answer: at least 10 years ago.

FLESH AND BLOOD

Happy birthday, Dr. Kay Scarpetta. But no Florida vacation for you and your husband, FBI profiler Benton Wesley—not because President Barack Obama is visiting Cambridge, but because a deranged sniper has come to town.

Shortly after everyone’s favorite forensic pathologist (Dust, 2013, etc.) receives a sinister email from a correspondent dubbed Copperhead, she goes outside to find seven pennies—all polished, all turned heads-up, all dated 1981—on her garden wall. Clearly there’s trouble afoot, though she’s not sure what form it will take until five minutes later, when a call from her old friend and former employee Pete Marino, now a detective with the Cambridge Police, summons her to the scene of a shooting. Jamal Nari was a high school music teacher who became a minor celebrity when his name was mistakenly placed on a terrorist watch list; he claimed government persecution, and he ended up having a beer with the president. Now he’s in the news for quite a different reason. Bizarrely, the first tweets announcing his death seem to have preceded it by 45 minutes. And Leo Gantz, a student at Nari’s school, has confessed to his murder, even though he couldn’t possibly have done it. But these complications are only the prelude to a banquet of homicide past and present, as Scarpetta and Marino realize when they link Nari’s murder to a series of killings in New Jersey. For a while, the peripheral presence of the president makes you wonder if this will be the case that finally takes the primary focus off the investigator’s private life. But most of the characters are members of Scarpetta’s entourage, the main conflicts involve infighting among the regulars, and the killer turns out to be a familiar nemesis Scarpetta thought she’d left for dead several installments back. As if.

No wonder Scarpetta asks, “When did my workplace become such a soap opera?” Answer: at least 10 years ago.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-232534-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

THE BLACK ECHO

Big, brooding debut police thriller by Los Angeles Times crime-reporter Connelly, whose labyrinthine tale of a cop tracking vicious bank-robbers sparks and smolders but never quite catches fire. Connelly shows off his deep knowledge of cop procedure right away, expertly detailing the painstaking examination by LAPD homicide detective Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch of the death-scene of sometime junkie Billy Meadows, whom Bosch knew as a fellow "tunnel rat" in Vietnam and who's now o.d.'d in an abandoned water tunnel. Pushing Meadows's death as murder while his colleagues see it as accidental, Bosch, already a black sheep for his vigilante-like ways, further alienates police brass and is soon shadowed by two nastily clownish Internal Affairs cops wherever he goes—even to FBI headquarters, which Bosch storms after he learns that the Bureau had investigated him for a tunnel-engineered bank robbery that Meadows is implicated in. Assigned to work with beautiful, blond FBI agent Eleanor Wish, who soon shares his bed in an edgy alliance, Bosch comes to suspect that the robbers killed Meadows because the vet pawned some of the loot, and that their subsequent killing of the only witness to the Meadows slaying points to a turned cop. But who? Before Bosch can find out, a trace on the bank-robbery victims points him toward a fortune in smuggled diamonds and the likelihood of a second heist—leading to the blundering death of the IAD cops, the unveiling of one bad cop, an anticipated but too-brief climax in the L.A. sewer tunnels, and, in a twisty anticlimax, the revelation of a second rotten law officer. Swift and sure, with sharp characterizations, but at heart really a tightly wrapped package of cop-thriller cliches, from the hero's Dirty Harry persona to the venal brass, the mad-dog IAD cops, and the not-so-surprising villains. Still, Connelly knows his turf and perhaps he'll map it more freshly next time out.

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 1992

ISBN: 0-316-15361-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1991

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more