Gerritsen always does well on the charts, but this masterful outing should rocket her into the top bracket of suspense...

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BODY DOUBLE

Doc Gerritsen rises to her best yet, skirting neatly around the cliché plotting usually tied to serial killers.

Once again Boston Homicide Detective Jane Rizzoli plays second fiddle to “Queen of the Dead” Medical Examiner Maura Isles (The Sinner, 2003), who gets to open up all the vics—unless they look just like her. After a week’s vacation in Paris, Maura returns to Boston to find flashing police cruisers in front of her house. As she gets out of her car and approaches the police, her neighbors and friendly cops stare at her aghast. They’ve just seen her dead, shot through the head in a car in front of her next door neighbor’s house. Even Maura is astounded to see her own body as a vic. Who is this dead woman? Gerritsen spins out the answer slowly, but we’ll tell you that she’s Maura’s unbeknownst twin sister—both were orphans, adopted at birth by separate families—but also part of a grisly adoption racket that involves the serial murders of pregnant women all around the country. The story turns on Maura’s perhaps real mother, a fake schizophrenic locked up in a mental hospital for murder, who tells Maura she’s slated to die the same way her sister did. Meanwhile, Maura is pursued by a handsome cop who has heavy family problems. Pregnant Jane Rizzoli, who buddies with Maura to help find answers to her dilemma, is close to term—and one wonders if she too may be slated for death. To tell more would be a disservice. Gerritsen leaves out her great arias on the poetry of the inner organs and the sweet hell of death that so ennobles The Sinner, but she keeps such a tight rein on her inspired plot that we don’t miss them.

Gerritsen always does well on the charts, but this masterful outing should rocket her into the top bracket of suspense writers.

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2004

ISBN: 0-345-45893-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2004

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Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

ONE GOOD DEED

Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

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Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

CROOKED RIVER

FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast finds evil afoot in his latest action-filled adventure (Verses for the Dead, 2018, etc.).

Imagine Florida beachcombers’ shock when they discover a shoe with a severed foot inside. Soon they see dozens more feet, all in identical shoes, bobbing toward the beach. Police and FBI ultimately count more than a hundred of them washing up on Sanibel and Captiva Islands' tranquil shores. Pendergast teams up with the junior Special Agent Armstrong Coldmoon to investigate this strange phenomenon. Oceanographers use a supercomputer to analyze Gulf currents and attempt to determine where the feet entered the ocean. Were they dumped off a ship or an island? Does each one represent a homicide? Analysts examine chemical residues and pollen, even the angle of each foot’s amputation, but the puzzle defies all explanation. Attention focuses on Cuba, where “something terrible was happening” in front of a coastal prison, and on China, the apparent source of the shoes. The clever plot is “a most baffling case indeed” for the brilliant Pendergast, but it’s the type of problem he thrives on. He’s hardly a stereotypical FBI agent, given for example his lemon-colored silk suit, his Panama hat, and his legendary insistence on working alone—until now. Pendergast rarely blinks—perhaps, someone surmises, he’s part reptile. But equally odd is Constance Greene, his “extraordinarily beautiful,” smart, and sarcastic young “ward” who has “eyes that had seen everything and, as a result, were surprised by nothing.” Coldmoon is more down to earth: part Lakota, part Italian, and “every inch a Fed.” Add in murderous drug dealers, an intrepid newspaper reporter, coyotes crossing the U.S.–Mexico border, and a pissed-off wannabe graphic novelist, and you have a thoroughly entertaining cast of characters. There is plenty of suspense, and the action gets bloody.

Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4725-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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