Isaacs’ wit and wisecracks can’t save this one.

TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE

A former FBI agent, planning to settle down and be a normal person on Long Island, smells a rat at her weekly lunch group.

When she met widowed hunk Josh, a top lawyer–turned–federal judge, and his now-14-year-old daughter, Eliza, Corie Geller thought she knew what she wanted. Instead of flying around the world interrogating terrorists for the government, she would marry Josh, become a wife and mother, and use her language skills to vet books in Arabic for U.S. publishers. That's how she landed at La Cuisine Délicieuse in Shorehaven, Long Island, lunching every Wednesday with the suburban self-employed. A landscaper, an eBay reseller, a low-end speechwriter, a photo retoucher, an internet data expert…but there’s one guy in the group who sets off her internal alarms. Pete Delaney sits in the same chair every week, won’t take his eyes off his car, keeps changing phones—it’s just weird. Even if he does check out to be what he claims to be—a freelance packaging designer—his many three-day out-of-town trips don’t quite make sense. So she and her dad, who's retired NYPD, launch a sub-rosa investigation. Following up every hunch, lead, and inkling she has about this guy is a full-time job. A full-time job for the reader, too. While the investigation goes on and on, often straining credibility, other possible plotlines in the book suffer. Josh’s dead wife, whose stuff is still all over the house. The daughter, whom Corie supposedly loves to pieces but who barely speaks a line of dialogue. The ex-boyfriend she still has the hots for. The boring husband she’s not so sure about. These characters and storylines are sketched in but languish as the Delaney investigation inexorably proceeds in excruciating detail. Still, Isaacs (A Hint of Strangeness, 2015, etc.) never forgets the need to charm the reader. Corie keeps up the nonstop sarcastic patter, and she really is a hoot. Her in-laws’ house: “they bought it from Mrs. Havisham then added indoor plumbing.” Pete Delaney’s pants: “strictly old-guy—the baggy kind that make men look as if penises hadn’t yet been invented.”

Isaacs’ wit and wisecracks can’t save this one.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8021-4755-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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