In retrospect, Woods’s endless rounds of dead-end scheming find an uncanny echo in contemporary reality TV. Think of this as...

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SANTA FE EDGE

Santa Fe attorney Ed Eagle’s murderous ex-wife and assorted lesser satellites continue to hatch plots at cross-purposes, all as inconclusively as ever.

In the nine weeks since she was sent to a Mexican prison for attempted murder (Santa Fe Dead, 2008), Barbara Eagle Keeler hasn’t been wasting her time. She’s been using the episodes of rape by Warden Pedro Alvarez to gather information that will help her escape and work more havoc back in the United States. Assisted more directly by James Long, the film producer who’s not only her lover but the prospective colleague of Ed’s new wife Susannah Wilde, she hatches a plan to kill Ed and his bride. When they get a whiff of Barbara’s escape despite Alvarez’s insistence that she was merely transferred to another prison, Ed’s longtime private eyes, Cupie Dalton and Vittorio, decide that their best defense against her is a good offense. Not enough malfeasance for you? Soon after Ed gets the murder charges against his latest client, golf pro Tip Hanks, dismissed, Tip takes on a new personal assistant, Dolly Parks, who just happens to be the serial embezzler who killed Tip’s wife. Meanwhile, Todd Bacon, the CIA’s station chief in Panama, is hot in pursuit of Teddy Fay, the CIA agent turned assassin who’s eluded every attempt made to catch him. None of this violent, weightless intrigue goes anywhere, of course, but the dialogue, reeking with obtuse self-assurance, is full of guilty pleasures, from Ed’s admonition to Susannah (“If you keep on shooting people we’re going to end up in court”) to Barbara’s prayer entreating a disputed legacy from the Almighty (“If you’ll let me have this money, I’ll never kill anybody again, not even Ed Eagle!”).

In retrospect, Woods’s endless rounds of dead-end scheming find an uncanny echo in contemporary reality TV. Think of this as one more installment in The Real Sexed-Up Felons of Santa Fe, with all the pleasures and limitations that title implies.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-399-15691-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 6, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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