Sir, I Can Explain

In another of Cork’s (Knight Moves, 2005) Jenny O’Shane tales, the Army brass taps her to dismantle a human trafficking operation.
An attractive, petite redhead, U.S. Army Maj. Jenny O’Shane of the military police is intelligent and calm under pressure. Yet she often gets the brush-off from males in authority. She’s assigned to work festivities for Crown Prince Fahd of Saudi Arabia, but Prince Kaliq, the Saudi minister of security, deems Jenny’s presence unnecessary. His attitude changes when she saves Fahd from an assassination attempt. The grateful prince presents her with a special dagger, which she must keep with her at all times. Meanwhile, in Argentina, a man nicknamed El Toro masterminds the worldwide collection of children for sale to the highest bidder, the proceeds funding terrorism. By chance, El Toro’s new wife, Vanessa, is a close friend of first lady Betty Fisher. To bring down his operation, Jenny will fight, parachute and swim into harm’s way, with the president’s seal of approval. Resourceful Jenny is a strong, if not memorable, central character, even as she courts trouble and must explain her activities to her superiors (thus, the title). She negotiates her way to the forefront of the action, of which there’s plenty, including scenes in which she gets use out of that dagger. She is vetted and capable, refusing to let men take all the plum assignments and the credit, making it easy to root for her. The story is layered with events in Jenny’s career and personal life as well as numerous individuals in the trafficking operation, including victims. Mostly, this tale feels authentic, though it seems unlikely the first lady would participate in a covert operation or fly on a Saudi aircraft. Readers may bristle as Jenny uses extreme measures against a captive and then considers a fabricated justification for her actions. At book’s end, Jenny doesn’t linger with the reader, perhaps because the mayhem she encounters doesn’t linger with her. Instead, it’s back to hanging with friends, stroking her cat and flirting with her fiance.
Solid military action, decent plotting and an appealing heroine, despite a few questionable scenes.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1938467554

Page Count: 286

Publisher: KoehlerBooks

Review Posted Online: July 12, 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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POP GOES THE WEASEL

After a flight in fantasy with When the Wind Blows (1998), Patterson goes to ground with another slash-and-squirm psychokiller page-turner, this one dedicated to “the millions of Alex Cross readers, who so frequently ask, can’t you write faster?” By day, Geoffrey Shafer is a charming, 42-year-old British Embassy paper-pusher with a picture-perfect family and a shady past as an MI-6 secret agent. Come sundown, he swallows a pharmacy of psychoactive pills, gulps three black coffees loaded with sugar, and roams the streets of Washington, D.C., in a battered cab, where, disguised as a black man, he rolls dice to determine which among his black female fares he—ll murder. Afterwards he dumps his naked victims in crime-infested back alleys of black- slum neighborhoods, then sends e-mails boasting of his accomplishments to three other former MI-6 agents involved in a hellish Internet role-playing game. “I sensed I was at the start of another homicide mess,” sighs forensic-psychologist turned homicide-detective Alex Cross. Cross yearns to catch the “Jane Doe murderer” but is thwarted by Det. Chief George Pittman, who assigns sexy Det. Patsy Hampton to investigate Cross and come up with a reason for dismissing him. Meanwhile, Cross’s fiancÇe is kidnaped during a Bermuda vacation, and an anonymous e-mail warns him to back off. He doesn’t, of course, and just when it appears that Patterson is sleep-walking through his story, Cross nabs Shafer minutes after Shafer kills Det. Hampton. During the subsequent high-visibility trail, Shafer manages to make the jury believe that he’s innocent and that Cross was trying to frame him. When all seems lost, a sympathetic British intelligence chief offers to help Cross bring down Shafer, and the other homicidal game-players, during a showdown on the breezy beaches of Jamaica. Kinky mayhem, a cartoonish villain, regular glimpses of the kindly Cross caring for his loved ones, and an ending that spells a sequel: Patterson’s fans couldn’t ask for more.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-69328-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1999

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