It’s getting to be a bigger blues band on Mosley’s stage, with Joe King Oliver now sitting in with Easy Rawlins and Leonid...

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DOWN THE RIVER UNTO THE SEA

Mosley (Charcoal Joe, 2016, etc.) begins what looks to be a new series with a protagonist whose territory covers New York City’s outer boroughs—and, yes, that means Staten Island, too.

Joe King Oliver was an ace investigator with the NYPD until his roving eye helped him get framed for sexual assault. “Trouble ambushed me with my pants down and my nose open,” as he explains to an acquaintance. He is kicked off the force and thrown into Riker’s Island, where he faces the kind of demeaning and vicious attacks a jailed cop would expect from inmates until a stretch in solitary confinement and an abrupt release save his life. Eleven years later, King (as some of his friends call him) is making a living as a private eye based on Brooklyn’s Montague Street when his mundane existence is jolted by two events: a letter from a woman admitting she was coerced into setting him up years before and a case involving a radical black activist who’s been sentenced to death for killing two corrupt, abusive officers. King sees serendipity in the convergence of these two cases, believing that if he could exonerate the activist, it’d be a way of finally exorcising his rueful memories. His dual inquiries carry him from glittering Wall Street offices to seedy alleyways all over the city, and he encounters double-dealing lawyers, shady cops, drug addicts, hired killers, and prostitutes along the way. The only people King can count on are his loyal and precocious 17-year-old daughter, Aja-Denise, and an equally loyal but tightly wound career criminal named Melquarth “Mel” Frost, whose capacity for violence will remind Mosley devotees of Mouse, the homicidal thug who either helps or hinders Easy Rawlins in the author’s first and best-known series. Indeed, so many aspects of this novel are reminiscent of other Mosley books that it tempts one to wonder whether he’s stretching his resources a little thin. But ultimately it’s Mosley’s signature style—rough-hewn, rhythmic, and lyrical—that makes you ready and eager for whatever he’s serving up.

It’s getting to be a bigger blues band on Mosley’s stage, with Joe King Oliver now sitting in with Easy Rawlins and Leonid McGill. But as long as it sounds sweet and smoky, let the good times roll.

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-50964-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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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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THE MIDNIGHT CLUB

Patterson's thrillers (Virgin, 1980; Black Market, 1986) have plummeted in quality since his promising debut in The Thomas Berryman Number (1976)—with this latest being the sorriest yet: a clanky and witless policer about a criminal mastermind and the cop sworn to take him down. Aside from watching sympathetic homicide dick John ("Stef") Stefanovich comeing to terms with a wheelchair-bound life—legacy of a shotgun blast to the back by drug-and-gun-running archfiend Alexandre St.-Germain—the major interest here lies in marvelling at the author's trashing of fiction convention. The whopper comes early: although St.-Germain is explicity described as being machine-gunned to death by three vigilante cops in a swank brothel (". . .a submachine gun blast nearly ripped off the head of Alexandre St.-Germain"; "The mobster's head and most of his neck had been savaged by the machine-gun volley. The body looked desecrated. . ."), before you know it this latter-day Moriarty is stepping unscathed out of an airplane. What gives? Authorial cheating, that's what—thinly glossed over with some mumbling later on about a "body double." Not that St.-Germain's ersatz death generated much suspense anyway, with subsequent action focusing on, among other items, the gory killings of assorted mob bosses by one of the vigilante cops, and Stef's viewing of pornographic tapes confiscated from that brothel. But readers generous enough to plod on will get to read about the newly Lazarus-ized St.-Germain's crass efforts to revitalize and consolidate the world's crime syndicates ("the Midnight Club"), Stef's predictable tumble for a sexy true-crime writer, and how (isn't one miracle enough for Patterson?) at book's end Stef walks again and gets to embrace a rogue cop who's murdered several people. Ironsides with a badge and a lobotomy.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 1988

ISBN: 0446676411

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1988

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