As in her two earlier Agatha Christie pastiches (Closed Casket, 2016, etc.), Hannah is content to supply boundless ingenuity...

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THE MYSTERY OF THREE QUARTERS

Hercule Poirot gets pulled into a mystery in the most awkward possible way when someone signing himself Hercule Poirot writes four letters accusing four different people of the same murder.

Not only did she not kill Barnabas Pandy, a furious Sylvia Rule assures the famous detective; she’s never even heard of him. Neither has John McCrodden, who assumes that his father, Rowland, whose fierce advocacy of the death penalty has won him the sobriquet “Rowland Rope,” conspired with Poirot to accuse his long-estranged son of murdering Pandy. Annabel Treadway has certainly heard of Pandy—he was her grandfather, after all—but she tearfully claims that she didn’t kill him either, though at least she’s willing to listen to Poirot’s own protestations of innocence. So is ebullient Turville School housemaster Hugo Dockerill, who passes the accusation off as a joke despite his own connection to Pandy, whose great-grandson, Timothy, Annabel’s nephew, is a pupil of his. With all due respect to the obvious questions he shares with his “friend and occasional helper,” Scotland Yard Inspector Edward Catchpool—which, if any, of these suspects actually killed Pandy? Why would anyone trouble to drown a 94-year-old slate magnate, no matter how wealthy has was, in his bathtub? Who wrote the letters?—Poirot is fascinated by a more puzzling question: Why would anyone want to write those four letters in the first place? A series of variously edgy conversations, a proffer of alibis, and another sudden death will intervene before Poirot, skillfully exploiting his trademark fondness for neat patterns, is able to make good on his uncharacteristically rash promise to reveal all in a roundup of the unusual suspects only a week later.

As in her two earlier Agatha Christie pastiches (Closed Casket, 2016, etc.), Hannah is content to supply boundless ingenuity in place of more 1930s detail, this time adding a divinely inspired denouement that seems to go on for longer than the week that leads up to it.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279234-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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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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