Bellotto’s detective, less ironic and more earnest in his angst than his American counterparts, proves a compelling guide to...

BELLINI AND THE SPHINX

Originally published in Portuguese in 1995, Bellotto’s series opener introduces Remo Bellini, a private eye in the tradition of Spade and Marlowe but distinctively Brazilian.

Bellini hates his first name. Born a twin, Remo has lived in the shadow of his brother, Romulo, who died at 2 days old. Since then, Romulo has always been the brother who would have been everything Remo isn’t: an obedient son, an academic success, a lawyer like his father, Tulio. Remo went to law school but hated practicing law, so now he works for Lobo Private Investigations. Like most private eyes, he spends a lot of time getting the goods on cheating spouses. So he’s intrigued when he catches a case that turns the formula on its head. Samuel Rafidjian, an eminent pediatric surgeon, wants to find an exotic dancer who worked at the Dervish, a strip club on São Paulo’s seedy Rua Augusta. After a six-month fling with the doctor, the woman abruptly disappeared, and Rafidjian is desperate to find her. No one at the Dervish admits to knowing the missing dancer. Manager Khalid Tureg says she never worked there and assures Bellini that he’ll never find her because “women are an illusion.” Meanwhile, Bellini finds himself awash in women: Dora Lobo, the boss who sends him on this crazy case; Camila and Dinéia, two dancers answering the missing woman’s description; Fatima, a prostitute who’s obsessed with him; Beatriz, the law student he’s obsessed with; even his mother, who calls him asking him to please make up with his stubborn father. The only woman who eludes him is the one he needs most urgently to find, Ana Cíntia Lopes, the mysterious object of Dr. Rafidjian’s sincere if misguided affection.

Bellotto’s detective, less ironic and more earnest in his angst than his American counterparts, proves a compelling guide to the passionate world of São Paulo.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61775-662-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Akashic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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POP GOES THE WEASEL

After a flight in fantasy with When the Wind Blows (1998), Patterson goes to ground with another slash-and-squirm psychokiller page-turner, this one dedicated to “the millions of Alex Cross readers, who so frequently ask, can’t you write faster?” By day, Geoffrey Shafer is a charming, 42-year-old British Embassy paper-pusher with a picture-perfect family and a shady past as an MI-6 secret agent. Come sundown, he swallows a pharmacy of psychoactive pills, gulps three black coffees loaded with sugar, and roams the streets of Washington, D.C., in a battered cab, where, disguised as a black man, he rolls dice to determine which among his black female fares he—ll murder. Afterwards he dumps his naked victims in crime-infested back alleys of black- slum neighborhoods, then sends e-mails boasting of his accomplishments to three other former MI-6 agents involved in a hellish Internet role-playing game. “I sensed I was at the start of another homicide mess,” sighs forensic-psychologist turned homicide-detective Alex Cross. Cross yearns to catch the “Jane Doe murderer” but is thwarted by Det. Chief George Pittman, who assigns sexy Det. Patsy Hampton to investigate Cross and come up with a reason for dismissing him. Meanwhile, Cross’s fiancÇe is kidnaped during a Bermuda vacation, and an anonymous e-mail warns him to back off. He doesn’t, of course, and just when it appears that Patterson is sleep-walking through his story, Cross nabs Shafer minutes after Shafer kills Det. Hampton. During the subsequent high-visibility trail, Shafer manages to make the jury believe that he’s innocent and that Cross was trying to frame him. When all seems lost, a sympathetic British intelligence chief offers to help Cross bring down Shafer, and the other homicidal game-players, during a showdown on the breezy beaches of Jamaica. Kinky mayhem, a cartoonish villain, regular glimpses of the kindly Cross caring for his loved ones, and an ending that spells a sequel: Patterson’s fans couldn’t ask for more.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-69328-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1999

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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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