As usual, the mystery plays second fiddle in an over-the-top tale laced with sarcasm and malapropisms.


More murder among the Amish and Mennonites, who live in what must be among the most homicide-prone communities in America.

Magdalena Yoder-Rosen, a Conservative Mennonite woman with a poor body image, a weird sense of humor, and a knack for solving murders (Tea With Jam and Dread, 2016, etc.), has been arrested for the murder of Sarah Conway, one of her guests at the PennDutch Inn, where she charges city slickers big bucks to muck out stalls, clean bathrooms, and eat yummy but heart-clogging Amish cuisine. Sarah was the assistant to Gordon Gaiters, editor of the wildly popular Woman’s Place magazine, and Mags, always hoping to garner favorable publicity for the inn, had agreed to bar all other guests during their visit—so there are very few other suspects when Sarah winds up dead. Mags’ husband, Gabe, aka the Babester, is a retired heart surgeon who struggles to keep the peace between his wife and his mother, a floridly stereotyped Jewish mama who’s launched a convent for depressed women. Mags, who uses her wealth to help many in the little southwest Pennsylvania town of Hernia, had already agreed to help Hortense Hemphopple—the neighbor whose mother, Wanda, is in prison for trying to kill Mags and her daughter Alison—reopen The Sausage Barn restaurant so that Hortense can pay her college tuition bill. Mags’ surprisingly successful fusion of Chinese and Amish cooking is complemented by the skills of Barbara Hostetler, whose desserts are to die for. And Sarah very possibly did die from eating one of the desserts brought from the restaurant to the inn. Luckily, Mags is a friend or relative to just about everyone in Hernia, and the judge, an old school pal, lets her out with a $1 bail, giving her plenty of time to track down the real killer with a little help from her friends and a goat.

As usual, the mystery plays second fiddle in an over-the-top tale laced with sarcasm and malapropisms.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7278-8915-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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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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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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