With Muñoz so fully drawn, it will be a pleasure to learn his fate.

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UNFINISHED BUSINESS

PURSUIT OF AN ANTARCTIC KILLER

Cohen (Frozen in Time, 2010) tenders part two of his murder and grand-theft trilogy, a fictionalized story inspired by real events.

The loot that was stolen in the first installment of this series—millions in cash, gold coins and jewelry that two Chilean Navy seamen absconded with after being assigned to guard a bank damaged during Chile’s great earthquake of 1960—continues to leave death in its wake as the action shifts from Antarctica to Chile. The goods are now in the hands of Cap. Roberto Muñoz, also of the Chilean Navy, who dispatches the previous owners in a grizzly but very neatly organized murder, detailed with significant brio by Cohen in the novel’s opening pages. Unfortunately for Muñoz, he has come under the suspicion of his old friend, Cap. Mateo Valderas, and his young sidekick in Internal Affairs, Lt.-Cmdr. Antonio Del Rio. Muñoz and Valderas had been at the naval academy together and knew each other’s minds fairly well, so the stage is set for a leisurely if menacing game of cat and mouse, with Muñoz staying a step ahead of the investigators while taunting Valderas with little clues in the form of rare and valuable coins (Valderas is a numismatics buff). Cohen keeps Valderas in hot pursuit, and there are moments when it appears that Muñoz might be too smart for his own good, but he never surrenders any hard evidence. The extended dialogues between Valderas and Del Rio occasionally lapse into a staged feeling, though they also work well in charting the connections between the dots. Where Cohen fully succeeds is in drawing the complexity of Muñoz’s character. The man is a thief and a murderer and a bully, and Cohen doesn’t let the reader forget that. Yet there is also decency lurking in his designs, and an appealing sense of honor, enough to spark moments of admiration, even as he sits on the beach in Ipanema, stealing looks at his “$50,000 Patek Philippe 18K yellow-gold Genève wrist watch.”

With Muñoz so fully drawn, it will be a pleasure to learn his fate.

Pub Date: July 29, 2010

ISBN: 978-1452061788

Page Count: 252

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2010

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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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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