In Alexander’s sixth Lady Emily mystery, our port-tippling heroine tracks a villain who’s threatening London’s best families with scandal—and worse.

Lady Emily, now married to dashing Colin Hargreaves (who occasionally acts as an undercover agent in service to Queen Victoria), is still courting social opprobrium with her slightly outré predilections, such as consuming unladylike after-dinner drinks, studying Latin and Greek and advocating women’s suffrage. However, soon more pressing challenges loom: Someone is defacing the facades of fashionable London townhouses with red paint, only, shortly thereafter, to disclose the deepest, darkest secrets of their occupants. Emily’s best friend Ivy, fearing exposure of some unnamed wrongdoing, confides only in her diary. Tied in, somehow, with the paint-spattering, fatalities mount. A prosperous businessman, Mr. Dillman, is found burnt to death in the warehouse he owns, and shortly thereafter his fiancée, Cordelia, is kidnapped and murdered. The miscreants taunt Scotland Yard with their misdeeds and with missives sealed with distinctive yellow wax. Colin, who has accepted Emily’s assistance with his investigations in the past, won’t tell her everything he knows of the ongoing manhunt, thus prompting her to embark on her own sleuthing in the company of Jeremy, Duke of Bainbridge, a recurring character who provides welcome comic relief from all the polite posturing and faux-Victorian parlance. Jeremy, a self-described rakish cad, is actually upset that the red paint vandals find him unworthy of smearing. When Lady Glover, a flamboyant former music-hall star never really accepted by Society, is kidnapped, the domestic tranquility of several highborn husbands hangs in the balance. Suspects proliferate at a dizzying rate, among them a politician who backs votes for women, his West Indian best friend, a shrewish London hostess who knows where all the bodies are buried and, well, half of the West End. Although, we can be assured, all will end with port and cigars in Emily’s library, this installment is encumbered by an impossibly convoluted plot and a lorry-load of scarlet herrings.


Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-66175-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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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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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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