The titled heroine is implausible but charming, and the plot is crammed as full of intrigue as a Viennese pastry is of...


Weeks (Awakening Avalon, 2014, etc.) introduces an intrepid new heroine, Countess Beatrice "Trixie" von Falkenburg, who crosses the Continent to solve a puzzle in her first foray in the demimonde.

The Countess of Falkenburg is distracted from society gossip and the woes of the declining aristocracy by a call from her dear Uncle Berty, aka the distinguished Gen. Albrecht Schönburg-Hartenstein. A body washed up in the Vltava River may well be that of Alois Tager, Berty’s batman throughout his years in the army, who was supposed to be safely in a home for aged veterans. The possibility of Alois’ death occasions not just sentimental sadness for Uncle Berty, but also serious financial risk. Berty and prosperous merchant Isidor Pinkerstein are the last two members of a Tontine, a gambling syndicate based on the life expectancy of the members' chosen proxies, with an enormous reward as the prize to the last survivor. Alois, of course, was Uncle Berty's stand-in, and Berty isn't sure that was really him in the river, so he asks Trixie to investigate—since no one will suspect "a perfectly respectable Countess....It is the perfect disguise." The theater is currently home to the Union of Servants, whose gatherings Trixie infiltrates to find the only thing more scandalous than labor organizing: valets and ladies’ maids dressed in swiped finery and aping their betters. Duly energized, Trixie sets out on a mad chase across the railways of Europe, finding another corpse along the way and ending in London. Motley clues lead to an astonishing scheme that threatens the most horrific weapon of war the world has yet seen and puts the very lives of King Edward and Kaiser Wilhelm at risk.

The titled heroine is implausible but charming, and the plot is crammed as full of intrigue as a Viennese pastry is of cream. Weeks blends equal parts espionage and farce into a frothy confection that ends perhaps a bit too darkly on intimations of World War I.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4642-0842-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?


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

Did you like this book?