A dense, absorbing tale featuring dogged characters that give the plot momentum.


British intelligence agents must figure out if a potential nuclear threat in London is motivated by politics, religion, or something more personal in Thistlewood’s (Bastards & Baronets, 2016, etc.) thriller.

Prime Minister Nancy Melville is concerned about a note she received in the mail that references a name, Basiliskos, and biblical verses that hint at a possible nuclear attack. There’s also been a series of murders of London prostitutes, each taking place during or just after gatherings led by a popular evangelist known only as “Jesus II.” The latest killing, however, is of Didier Thomas, a member of Parliament and a co-founder of the Doffers, a notable group of religious enthusiasts. MI5 Director-General Sir Charles Pithcart is uncertain whether Thomas’ assassination was motivated by politics or religion. He’s also looking into the aforementioned note, which his journalist daughter, Claire, also decides to investigate. Her colleague, cadet reporter Emma McKay, links it to her late physicist father, Douglas, who, back in the 1980s, worked on an American project called Basil—“something to do with lasers,” Emma explains. Evidence soon points to numerous murder suspects, including terrorists. Thistlewood’s story is practically bursting with subplots and theories. Various characters, such as British Director of Counter Terrorism Mike Mortlake, postulate their own scenarios, often with specific suspects in mind. The story is dizzying but enjoyable as the author deftly establishes various character relationships; the mutual dislike between MI-5 Deputy Director-General Martin Aston and Director of the Analysis Centre Sue Remlick, for example, is abundantly clear. Further illicit deeds bolster the plot, including a scandalous affair and more than one instance of blackmail. Much of the story’s dialogue is refreshingly distinctive, and even captures its American characters’ distinctive drawl. Oddly, though, Thistlewood censors the profanity in his narrative (“Well, where the f…”) until the final act, in which the players use quite a few F-words.

A dense, absorbing tale featuring dogged characters that give the plot momentum.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5393-5366-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2016

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


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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As usual, Patterson (Cradle and All, p. 262, etc.) provides a nonstop alternation of felonies and righteous retribution...


Who’s robbing all those banks and kidnapping all those people and killing all those accomplices? It’s somebody calling himself the Mastermind—a comic-book sobriquet that represents everything that’s wrong with the latest installment in Patterson’s Alex Cross franchise.

A young woman robs a bank in suburban Maryland and threatens to kill the manager’s family if she’s kept from meeting her timetable. She’s less than a minute late out the door, so the family dies. So does the robber. So do all the staff at a second bank after somebody tips the police off. Who could possibly be so ruthless? It’s the Mastermind, the evil genius who set up both robberies intending murder from the beginning—even warning the cops the second time. And robbing banks is only the beginning for the megalomaniac, who’s plotting a group abduction worth $30 million and a series of maneuvers that’ll feed his cat’s-paws to the police, or to the fishes. And since the Mastermind likes to see families suffer, he vows to take the war of nerves right to forensic psychologist Cross. But if he wants to ruin the D.C. detective’s life, he’ll have to stand in line, since Cross’s girlfriend Christine Johnson is pulling away from him and his daughter Jannie is suddenly having seizures. Despite his prowess with guns and fists, and his awesome insight into other people’s minds, Cross would be desperate if it weren’t for the timely embraces of FBI agent Betsey Cavalierre, to whom he’ll make passionate love while telling her, “I like being with you. A lot. Even more than I expected.” With an adversary like that, how can the Mastermind prevail?

As usual, Patterson (Cradle and All, p. 262, etc.) provides a nonstop alternation of felonies and righteous retribution unclouded by texture, thought, or moral complexity, to produce the speediest tosh on the planet.

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2000

ISBN: 0-316-69325-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000

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