Blunt but expertly paced and viscerally effective, with many surprises and genuine chills.

LOCKED DOORS

Popular suspense writer Andrew Thomas (Desert Places, 2004), still wrongly believed to be a serial killer, lives in hiding but can’t escape fan(atic)s or a copycat killer.

In 1996, Andrew’s long-lost twin Orson, aided by a psychopathic accomplice named Luther Kite, killed their mother and a man named Walter Lancing. The seemingly ironclad case against Andrew sent him on the run. This sequel unfolds in short chapters from multiple perspectives; Andrew’s point-of-view cuts are written in a noir first person and addressed directly to the reader. Orson is dead, but a revitalized Luther Kite cuts a grisly swath down the East Coast. Shrewdly employing the modus operandi ascribed to the wrongly accused writer, Luther kidnaps and tortures both Andrew’s former fiancée, New York book editor Karen Prescott, and Lancing’s widow, Elizabeth. Along the way he commits several other crimes, the most vividly described being his gutting of a discourteous department store employee. Meanwhile, oddball aspiring writer Horace Boone finds Andrew’s remote lair and, deducing the writer’s identity, begins to formulate a master plagiarism plan. In the newspaper, Andrew reads about a brutal murder attributed to him and immediately suspects Luther. He reluctantly sets off in pursuit. Brilliant young police detective Violet King is also on this case, her first big one. Instinct tells her that the perp is more likely Luther than Andrew. Vi visits his elderly parents, Rufus and Maxine Kite, a near-fatal decision she lives to painfully regret. When Vi hooks up with Andrew, the story seems to be unfolding on a predictable path, but it’s only the beginning of cliffhangers and nail-biting twists.

Blunt but expertly paced and viscerally effective, with many surprises and genuine chills.

Pub Date: July 11, 2005

ISBN: 0-312-31799-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Dunne/Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2005

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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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Joe, who insists that “I’m not on a side,” spends more time than he’d like in rooms with ceilings, but the mystery is strong...

COLD WIND

Wyoming Fish and Game Warden Joe Pickett’s fondest dream becomes his worst nightmare when his loathsome mother-in-law is arrested for murder.

Earl Alden, the sixth suitor to take Missy Vankueren Longbrake Alden to the nuptial bed, was proud of the 100 new wind turbines sprouting on his spread, the Thunderbird Ranch. But someone must have disliked both them and him, because Joe finds his corpse chained to the vane of one of them, rotating briskly. Joe’s current nemesis, county sheriff Kyle McLanahan, and rookie county attorney Lisa Rich, announce that they’ve got an airtight case against Missy based on the testimony of an unnamed informant who maintains that she engaged him to kill the Earl of Lexington, who in a reversal of the customary order of things had been preparing to divorce her before she could tire of him. Joe, whose dislike of his overbearing, manipulative mother-in-law crystallized into something harder when she divorced rancher Bud Longbrake, confiscated his family’s property and left him empty-handed, finds himself in the unwelcome position of hunting for exculpatory evidence. He’d love to have the help of outlaw falconer Nate Romanowski once more. But Nate, following a serious quarrel with Joe (Nowhere to Run, 2010), has gone to ground somewhere he hopes will be safe from the old Special Forces colleagues he suspects have been sent to find and kill him. It looks like both men will be on their own until they collide just in time for a stunning courtroom finale.

Joe, who insists that “I’m not on a side,” spends more time than he’d like in rooms with ceilings, but the mystery is strong enough to compensate, and the revelations about wind farms will curl your hair no matter which side you’re on.

Pub Date: March 22, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15735-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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