Like most of Liz’s adventures, this one is conscientious and unspectacular, with little suggestion of significant moral or...

CLOSE CALL

In her eighth world-class headache, Liz Carlyle and the rest of MI5 (The Geneva Trap, 2012, etc.) tangle with a ring that deals weapons to the worst kind of people.

As you may have noticed from recent headlines, the Arab Spring didn’t exactly square everything away in the Middle East—certainly not in Liz’s corner of the world. Andy Bokus, head of the CIA in London, delivers the unhappy news that despite the arms embargo to Yemen, someone his agency has code named “Pigot” is smuggling arms there through England, ultimately placing them in the eager hands of jihadis. Even worse, the best intelligence identifies Pigot as Antoine Milraud, a disgraced French ex–intelligence officer whose sense of tradecraft and contacts around the world make him doubly dangerous. Andy’s former deputy, Miles Brookhaven, is patiently extracting information from “Donation,” Yemeni Trade Minister Jamaal Baakrime, but Donation’s leads, slow to come under ideal conditions, grind to a halt when his son is killed. So the best hope for Liz and her French and American counterparts is to stay on Milraud’s tail even though their elusive target is equally slow to incriminate himself or anyone else. Can it get any worse? Indeed it can. The longer Liz stays on the case, the more convinced she becomes that James McManus, Deputy Head of Special Branch in Greater Manchester, is in cahoots with unsavory club owner Lester Jackson, who’s expanding his interests from drugs and prostitution to the arms trade. Liz’s fling with James McManus, who befriended and bedded her when she was seconded long ago to the Merseyside Police, didn’t end well, but she never imagined he’d cross this line. The concatenation of evil threatens not only the new world order, but Liz’s nearest and dearest.

Like most of Liz’s adventures, this one is conscientious and unspectacular, with little suggestion of significant moral or psychological depths below the professionalism. Rimington’s biggest talent lies in her uncanny knack for choosing the hot-button issues to hang her stories on.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 9781620406168

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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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 characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once...

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

In Baldacci’s 19th (True Blue, 2009, etc.), boy and girl monster-hunters meet cute.

Evan Waller, aka Fadir Kuchin, aka “the Butcher of Kiev,” aka “the Ukrainian psychopath,” is one of those deep-dyed villains a certain kind of fiction can’t do without. Serving with distinction as part of the Soviet Union’s KGB, he joyfully and indiscriminately killed thousands. Now, many years later, posing as a successful businessman, he’s vacationing in Provence where, unbeknownst to him, two separate clandestine operations are being mounted by people who do not regard him with favor. Reggie Campion—28 and gorgeous—spearheads the first, an ad hoc group of monster-hunting vigilantes. Studly, tall Shaw (no first name supplied) is point guard for a rival team, shadowy enough to leave the matter of its origin ambiguous. While their respective teams reconnoiter and jockey for position, studly boy meets gorgeous girl. Monster-hunters are famous for having trust issues, but clearly these are drawn to each other in the time-honored Hollywood fashion. Shaw saves Reggie’s life. She returns the favor. The attraction deepens and heats up to the point where team-members on both sides grow unsettled by the loss of focus, singularly inopportune since, as monsters go, Waller rises to the second coming of Caligula—ample testimony furnished by a six-page, unsparingly detailed torture scene. In the end, the stalkers strike, bullets fly, screams curdle the blood, love has its innings and a monster does what a monster’s got to do.

The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once again show the stuff it’s made of.

Pub Date: April 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-446-56408-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Avon A/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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