A spunky sleuth and plenty of period flavor enliven the first in a new series that takes Calkins (A Death Along the River...

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MURDER KNOCKS TWICE

In 1929, a needy young woman lands a job in a Chicago speak-easy. What could possibly go wrong?

Gina Ricci is the sole support of her father, whose worsening palsy is making it almost impossible for him to work. Her friend Lulu, who works at the Third Door, suggests that she apply to replace a cigarette girl who was recently murdered. The speak-easy is efficiently run by Signora Castallazzo and her mobster husband, Big Mike. Gina is soon immersed in a world of socialites, college kids, straying husbands, and veterans seeking escape from their problems. In addition to the attractive young women who sell drinks and put on a show watched over by vigilant bouncers, she meets Ned, a piano player who was in love with the murdered girl, and Marty Doyle, a photographer who turns out to be the favorite cousin of Gina’s mother, who died when she was young. Gina’s intrigued by what Marty can tell her about her mother’s side of the family, Irish relatives who’ve never reached out to her. Another man who takes an interest in Gina is wounded veteran Lt. Roark, who’s on leave from the police but still taking crime scene photos. While taking a break, she finds Marty near death from a stab wound. With his dying breath he asks her to hide his camera. When she goes to Marty’s funeral, she meets some of her relatives and learns that she’s his heir. Both of his two apartments, including the one he used as a darkroom, have been searched. Clearly, something on the last roll of film Marty shot poses a threat. Unable to trust anyone, Gina takes up Roark’s offer to teach her how to develop and print photographs. She develops the film but can’t figure out which of its pictures points to a ruthless killer.

A spunky sleuth and plenty of period flavor enliven the first in a new series that takes Calkins (A Death Along the River Fleet, 2016, etc.) from English historicals to more recent but equally violent times.

Pub Date: April 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-19083-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 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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THE MIDNIGHT CLUB

Patterson's thrillers (Virgin, 1980; Black Market, 1986) have plummeted in quality since his promising debut in The Thomas Berryman Number (1976)—with this latest being the sorriest yet: a clanky and witless policer about a criminal mastermind and the cop sworn to take him down. Aside from watching sympathetic homicide dick John ("Stef") Stefanovich comeing to terms with a wheelchair-bound life—legacy of a shotgun blast to the back by drug-and-gun-running archfiend Alexandre St.-Germain—the major interest here lies in marvelling at the author's trashing of fiction convention. The whopper comes early: although St.-Germain is explicity described as being machine-gunned to death by three vigilante cops in a swank brothel (". . .a submachine gun blast nearly ripped off the head of Alexandre St.-Germain"; "The mobster's head and most of his neck had been savaged by the machine-gun volley. The body looked desecrated. . ."), before you know it this latter-day Moriarty is stepping unscathed out of an airplane. What gives? Authorial cheating, that's what—thinly glossed over with some mumbling later on about a "body double." Not that St.-Germain's ersatz death generated much suspense anyway, with subsequent action focusing on, among other items, the gory killings of assorted mob bosses by one of the vigilante cops, and Stef's viewing of pornographic tapes confiscated from that brothel. But readers generous enough to plod on will get to read about the newly Lazarus-ized St.-Germain's crass efforts to revitalize and consolidate the world's crime syndicates ("the Midnight Club"), Stef's predictable tumble for a sexy true-crime writer, and how (isn't one miracle enough for Patterson?) at book's end Stef walks again and gets to embrace a rogue cop who's murdered several people. Ironsides with a badge and a lobotomy.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 1988

ISBN: 0446676411

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1988

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