Neo-noir thriller that will satisfy readers with an appetite for familiar fare.

THE LISBON CROSSING

History continues to be fertile thriller territory for Gabbay, who brings back his Bogart-esque hero from The Berlin Conspiracy (2006) for a WWII-era prequel.

Before he joined the CIA, Jack Teller was a Hollywood stuntman. One of his stunts was seducing the wife of a psychotic production chief, however, so Teller figures it’s a good idea to accept aging star Lili Sterne’s request for his company on a cruise to Lisbon. It’s June 1940: The German army has overrun France, and Europe is awash with refugees. The still-stunning Sterne, a former Berliner who leaves “a trail of whispers in her wake,” wants Teller’s help in locating Eva Lange, a childhood friend who has supposedly surfaced in Portugal after months on the run. The last detective Sterne hired supposedly located Lange, but Eddie Grimes died under mysterious circumstances before he could reunite the women. Teller quickly ascertains that not only was Grimes shot before his car was dumped in the ocean, but that the body locked in the car’s trunk belongs to a missing Abwehr officer. Each was shot with a different gun, but both had been seen with Lange. Could the mysterious missing woman be behind the multiple murders? Was she working for the Nazis, British intelligence, or herself? Teller doesn’t care about world politics, declaring, “Only suckers get involved in somebody else’s fight.” As he warms to the glamorous Sterne, however, he becomes ensnared in a web of international intrigue that also holds the recently abdicated Duke of Windsor and his trashy wife (in a subplot based on historical fact). With a story cribbed from period movies like Casablanca, Gabbay has created more of a pastiche than a novel, but it’s fast and fun.

Neo-noir thriller that will satisfy readers with an appetite for familiar fare.

Pub Date: April 10, 2007

ISBN: 0-06-118843-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2007

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Lame but, like its predecessors, bound for bestsellerdom.

HOUR GAME

A serial killer with a sense of history is the baddie in this latest from Baldacci, one of the reigning kings of potboilers (Split Second, 2003, etc.).

He kills, he leaves clues, he flatters through imitation: Son of Sam, the San Francisco Zodiac killer, Richard Ramirez, John Wayne Gracy, and so on down a sanguinary list of accredited members of the Monsters’ Hall of Fame. Suddenly, the landscape of poor little Wrightsburg, Virginia, is littered with corpses, and ex-Secret Service agents Sean King and Michelle Maxwell have their hands full. That’s because bewildered, beleaguered Chief of Police Todd Williams has turned to the newly minted private investigating firm of King and Maxwell for desperately needed (unofficial) help. Even these ratiocinative wizards, however, admit to puzzlement. “But I'm not getting this,” says Michelle. “Why commit murders in similar styles to past killers as a copycat would and then write letters making it clear you’re not them?” Excellent question, and it goes pretty much unanswered. Never mind—enter the battling Battles, a family with the requisite number of sins and secrets to qualify fully as hot southern Gothic and to prop up a plot in need. Bobby Battles, the patriarch, is bedridden, but Remmy, his wife, is one lively mischief-making steel magnolia. She’s brought breaking-and-entering charges against decent local handyman Junior Deaver, who as a result languishes in the county jail. Convinced of his innocence, Junior’s lawyer hires King & Maxwell to sniff around for exculpatory evidence. Well, will the two plot streams flow together? You betcha. Will the copycat-serial-killer at one point decide that King and Maxwell are just too clever to live? Inevitably. And when at last that CCSK’s identity is revealed and his crimes explained (talkily and tediously), will readers be satisfied? Only the charitable among them.

Lame but, like its predecessors, bound for bestsellerdom.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2004

ISBN: 0-446-53108-1

Page Count: 440

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2004

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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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