Cozy as a warm blanket as Jessica Fletcher hunts down yet another killer with her customary panache.

MURDER, SHE WROTE

MURDER IN SEASON

The arrival of Christmas cues a murderer to play Scrooge.

Jessica Fletcher is finally moving back to her home that was ravaged by fire in Murder, She Wrote: The Murder of Twelve (2020). The only last-minute glitch is the new septic system that’s required. Unfortunately, the folks digging up her yard discover an old chest and two corpses. Without missing a beat, Jessica sets to work with her old partners in crime-solving, Sheriff Mort Metzger and Dr. Seth Hazlitt. One body is fairly recent; the other may be hundreds of years old. Both interest muckraking reporter Tad Hollenbeck, of the TV show Stalker, who’s doing a long-overdue piece on Cabot Cove as the murder capital of the world. The chest holds papers relating to the town’s five founding families, who made their fortunes in shipping and milling and still have descendants in the area. In addition to papers of interest to historians, it contains shocking information about the founders’ slave trading. For Jessica, who wonders if the sins of the past are still causing trouble, the most important document is the diary of John Henry Cabot, which she expects she'll have to put aside once she's called on to solve the murder of Tad Hollenbeck. The story of stolen diamonds in the diary, however, leads her to a motive for murder as the founders’ surviving relatives become suspects (the lucky ones) and corpses (those less lucky) in a complex investigation that threatens to spoil Christmas.

Cozy as a warm blanket as Jessica Fletcher hunts down yet another killer with her customary panache.

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984804-36-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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All of Pendergast’s adventures are weird and wonderful fun, and this is no exception.

BLOODLESS

FBI Special Agent Pendergast and his cohorts face great peril as they try to find out what’s bleeding a Georgia city dry.

In 1971, the mysterious hijacker D.B. Cooper parachutes from a commercial airliner with a bundle of cash in the remote northwest and is never heard from again. A half-century later, Aloysius X.L. Pendergast and colleague Armstrong Coldmoon are sent to Savannah, Georgia, to investigate a “most peculiar incident”: a body has washed ashore with nary a drop of blood left in the corpse. A reader’s first thought might be What’s that got to do with an old hijacking? Leave it to the imaginations of Preston and Child to eventually make the delightfully strange connection. Pendergast looks every bit the stereotypical undertaker, not at all fitting the FBI mold. He brings along his adult “ward,” Constance Greene, who brings her stiletto everywhere she goes. Meanwhile, bloodless bodies accumulate. Who could possibly be committing these frightful atrocities? And why only in Savannah? That one’s easy: because it’s a spooky old city “with its gnarled trees and crooked houses,” and everything about the plot is spooky and surreal. A film crew prepares to create a phony documentary in a graveyard using smoke machines and showing callous disregard for the dead. A scheming U.S. senator frets that the rapid escalation in ghastly violence will hurt his reelection prospects, and he pressures the FBI for a rapid solution. Unfortunately, the killer makes an unholy mess of the city, sucking out its Southern charm along with plenty of blood. He—she—let’s settle on it—turns the tale into one of more horror than crime. Without Pendergast’s perspicacity, Coldmoon’s competence, and Constance’s cojones (figuratively, of course), that old city of mint juleps would be a smoking hole in the ground. And readers wouldn’t learn about D.B. Cooper’s fate. The authors’ imaginations run unfettered as they travel to unearthly locales, but in the end it comes down to beleaguered Savannah.

All of Pendergast’s adventures are weird and wonderful fun, and this is no exception.

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5387-3670-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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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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