An impressive debut, particularly notable for its pellucid prose.

A CUPBOARD FULL OF COATS

First novel explores the trans-generational fallout from an abusive relationship.

Edwards vividly re-creates the lifestyles, cuisine and dialect of Caribbean immigrants living in London’s East End. Her narrator is Jinx, whose present life has been tainted by her mother’s violent death 14 years earlier, for which she blames herself. When an old family friend, Lemon, appears out of nowhere, Jinx is forced to relive the events leading up to the tragedy. Her mother’s lover, Berris, the man who stabbed her, grew up with Lemon as a street urchin on the tiny West Indies island of Montserrat. The two men are lifelong friends, but also rivals. Berris spoiled Lemon’s marriage by impugning his wife’s chastity and the paternity of his son. Meanwhile, Jinx reflects on how her own marriage suffered from her traumatic adolescence. Having relinquished custody of her son to her ex-husband, she has no maternal feelings toward the child. Her alienation is such that she only feels comfortable around the dead people she makes up in her job as a freelance embalmer. Now, long estranged from his son, his wife dead of cancer, Lemon has come to confess something to Jinx. As Jinx and Lemon tiptoe around each other, various facts emerge. Jinx was 16 when Berris appeared. Her formerly tranquil life with her mother, a widow, is shattered by her mother’s total absorption in Berris. When he moves in, a pattern begins: He hits Jinx’s mother (we don’t learn her name until the end) then, to atone, buys her progressively more luxurious coats, until she has a closetful. Jinx loses her virginity to the much older Lemon, but is stung by his apparent crush on her mother. Her resentment explodes into rage after Berris beats her, and her mother ignores her screams. As both Lemon and Jinx cautiously summon long suppressed memories of the night of the murder, the novel spirals to a satisfying if not entirely surprising climax.

An impressive debut, particularly notable for its pellucid prose.

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1851687978

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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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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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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