All the elements are in place for a satisfying thriller, but Plame's sophomore effort disappoints.

READ REVIEW

BURNED

In former CIA spy Plame's second novel, covert operative Vanessa Pierson is again pitted against rogue arms dealer Bhoot, who, she's surprised to discover, isn't in possession of a miniaturized nuclear prototype smuggled out of Iran. If he isn't, who is?

The untrustworthy Bhoot makes direct contact with Pierson for the first time ever following an explosion outside the Louvre that nearly kills her. He says he had nothing to do with the suicide attack, but does that mean that True Jihad, a new group claiming responsibility for it, does? And are they the ones with the device? Assigned to a special task force headed by the patronizing French intelligence director, Pierson and her enigmatic lover from the series debut, Blowback (2013), tiptoe around their hidden steamy romance when not sleuthing side by side. Another of her informants is killed, and on the way from Paris to Turkey, identities are blown. But certain dark secrets remain in place. Following their solid first effort, Plame and co-writer Lovett (creator of the Dr. Sylvia Strange series) run aground. The first 100 pages are plodding, the writing filled with clichés and unnecessary descriptions of how dangerous even a tiny nuke is. And once things get going, Burned still lacks a certain spark. Part of the problem is Plame hasn't yet decided how tough she wants Vanessa to be. While her klutziness is meant to be part of her charm, would someone in her position still be asking which "thingy" on her spy pen to press to record conversations? For that matter, after decades of James Bond stories, are there any enemy spies left who would be fooled by such a bug?

All the elements are in place for a satisfying thriller, but Plame's sophomore effort disappoints.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-15821-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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?

more