A satisfying puzzler, one to shelve alongside le Carré, Forsyth, and other masters of foreign intrigue.

THE PARIS DIVERSION

“It is a dangerous time to be alive.” Indeed, as this fast-paced thriller by seasoned mysterian Pavone (The Travelers, 2016, etc.) proves.

A siren wails in Paris, a once-rare sound often heard in these times of terror. It’s gone off because a jihadi has strapped a bomb to himself and is standing in front of the Louvre, “in the epicenter of Western civilization,” waiting for his moment. But is he a jihadi? Who’s put him up to this dastardly deed, and why? That’s for Kate Moore, deep-cover CIA agent, “sidewalk-swimming in a sea of expat moms,” to suss out. Kate lives in a shadow world, so hidden away that even her hedge-fund-master husband doesn’t have a clue about what she does: “Dexter has been forced to accept that she’s entitled to her secrets,” Pavone writes, adding, “He’s had plenty of his own.” Indeed, and in the shadowy parallel world of speculative finance, he’s teamed up with a fast-living entrepreneur who wants nothing more than to become superrich and run off with his “assistant-concubine.” Hunter Forsyth is about to announce a huge deal, but suddenly he’s disappeared, whisked away by shadowy people who, by the thin strings of suspense, have something to do with that bomb across town. So does a vengeful young mom, strapped to a useless husband and bent on payback for a long-ago slight. All this is red meat to Kate, who’s tired of the domestic life, no matter how much a sham, and is happier than a clam when “running her network of journalists, bloggers, influencers, as well as drug dealers, thieves, prostitutes, and cops, plus diplomats and soldiers, maitre d’s and concierges and bartenders and shopkeepers.” With all those players, mercenaries, and assorted bad guys thrown into the mix, you just know that the storyline is going to be knotty, and it resolves in a messy spatter of violence that’s trademark Pavone and decidedly not for the squeamish.

A satisfying puzzler, one to shelve alongside le Carré, Forsyth, and other masters of foreign intrigue.

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6150-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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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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A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...

BADLANDS

Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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