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.


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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As usual, Patterson (Cradle and All, p. 262, etc.) provides a nonstop alternation of felonies and righteous retribution...


Who’s robbing all those banks and kidnapping all those people and killing all those accomplices? It’s somebody calling himself the Mastermind—a comic-book sobriquet that represents everything that’s wrong with the latest installment in Patterson’s Alex Cross franchise.

A young woman robs a bank in suburban Maryland and threatens to kill the manager’s family if she’s kept from meeting her timetable. She’s less than a minute late out the door, so the family dies. So does the robber. So do all the staff at a second bank after somebody tips the police off. Who could possibly be so ruthless? It’s the Mastermind, the evil genius who set up both robberies intending murder from the beginning—even warning the cops the second time. And robbing banks is only the beginning for the megalomaniac, who’s plotting a group abduction worth $30 million and a series of maneuvers that’ll feed his cat’s-paws to the police, or to the fishes. And since the Mastermind likes to see families suffer, he vows to take the war of nerves right to forensic psychologist Cross. But if he wants to ruin the D.C. detective’s life, he’ll have to stand in line, since Cross’s girlfriend Christine Johnson is pulling away from him and his daughter Jannie is suddenly having seizures. Despite his prowess with guns and fists, and his awesome insight into other people’s minds, Cross would be desperate if it weren’t for the timely embraces of FBI agent Betsey Cavalierre, to whom he’ll make passionate love while telling her, “I like being with you. A lot. Even more than I expected.” With an adversary like that, how can the Mastermind prevail?

As usual, Patterson (Cradle and All, p. 262, etc.) provides a nonstop alternation of felonies and righteous retribution unclouded by texture, thought, or moral complexity, to produce the speediest tosh on the planet.

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2000

ISBN: 0-316-69325-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000

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