A dark, bracing volume in a series that’s making it a habit.

READ REVIEW

SLASHTAG

From the Max Larkin Detective Series series , Vol. 4

Thiede (Miss Me?, 2015) weaves a gruesome tale of suspense in the fourth book of his Max Larkin series.

This story picks up just where the last adventure left off. Max’s life and career are on a tremendous upswing. He’s just solved yet another challenging case, this one bringing both local acclaim and national media attention to him and his best friend/partner, Jesse. Newfound fame and a job offer with the FBI would be more than enough to keep many gumshoes occupied, but Max finds himself catapulted into a new case almost immediately when, on live TV, an anonymous killer murders an old flame of his, threatening more to come if Max can’t find and stop him. What’s more, the killer holds the entire town hostage, using expertly planted bombs and cameras to force Max to play his twisted game, all while charging strangers for the privilege of watching it unfold on a live webcast. The killer’s sick humor and gamesmanship aren’t particularly novel, but as signs begin pointing toward someone connected to Max’s past, the story takes on new depth, peering into the life of the boy who would become a hero. It’s during these glimpses that the book is at its most complex, revealing sordid details lurking behind small-town living and Max’s personal history. The present day also features some strong character moments. Although there’s not much relationship development between Max and Jesse, that can be attributed to how solid the dynamic has become over the last few books rather than a lack of thought in this episode. Additionally, there’s plenty of development for many of the major romantic relationships, adding some color to a generally grim story. New readers will certainly want to pick up previous installments, but this volume has enough of the breakneck pace and grisly murders—hallmarks of the series—to make it a gripping read even for the uninitiated. Some readers may be put off by the extremes of what Max witnesses, but those with stronger stomachs will feel right at home.

A dark, bracing volume in a series that’s making it a habit.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5119-3239-4

Page Count: 266

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Child builds tension to unbearable extremes, then blows it out in sharply choreographed violence, even if his plot has more...

ECHO BURNING

From the Jack Reacher series , Vol. 5

Smashingly suspenseful fifth in Child’s series (Running Blind, 2000, etc.) lands this British author’s rootless, laconic action hero in southwest Texas, where a femme fatale lures him into a family squabble that inevitably turns violent.

In the kind of daylight-noir setting that Jim Thompson loved, ex-military cop Jack Reacher has his thumb out on a lonely west Texas highway when he’s picked up by Carmine Greer, the Mexican-American wife of bad-ol’-boy Sloop Greer. It seems that Sloop, elder son of a white-trash-turned-oil-rich ranching dynasty, is nearing the end of a prison term for tax evasion, and Carmine, whose body Reacher sees is marked with signs of physical abuse, wants Reacher to be her bodyguard—or, failing that, kill the man in such a way that Carmine can still hold on to her terminally cute six-year-old daughter Ellie. Reacher refuses but decides to meet the folks: Rusty, Sloop’s racist, charmless mother, and Bobby, Sloop’s stupid, pugnacious brother. Meanwhile, a trio of paid assassins is littering the Texas roadside with corpses, starting with Sloop’s lawyer, Al Eugene. In a set-piece as good as anything in Elmore Leonard, Bobby sends two ranch-hands to ambush Reacher at an Abilene roadhouse filled with 20 other cowboys spoiling for a fight. Reacher walks away without a scratch, telling Bobby that his hospitalized ranch-hands have “quit.” Child twists his increasingly hokey plot into a pretzel when Sloop is found dead and Carmine confesses to killing him. Reacher just can’t believe that Carmine is guilty and teams up with Alice Aarons, a leggy Jewish lesbian fresh out of law school, who trusts him with her car, her handgun, and her life.

Child builds tension to unbearable extremes, then blows it out in sharply choreographed violence, even if his plot has more holes in it than the shirt Reacher uses for target practice.

Pub Date: July 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-14726-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more