Steadily absorbing revelations of all manner of malfeasance, beautifully handled, even if the final twist is less than the...

BLOODY GENIUS

Virgil Flowers’ 12th appearance takes him into the homicidal heart of the University of Minnesota.

When a professor’s as brainy and wealthy as Barthelemy Quill, a nerve specialist who drives a BMW, you have to make some allowances for him. That’s presumably why his unnamed female companion agrees to let him sneak her into his personal carrel at midnight, hours after the university library has closed. But neither of them is prepared to find the dark carrel already occupied by another anonymous figure who, far from making allowances, reacts to Quill’s sputtering outrage by bashing him to death with his state-of-the-art laptop and running off with the murder weapon. Pressed by Quill’s equally rich sister to get faster results than Sgt. Margaret Trane of the Minneapolis PD has come up with, the governor gets the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to send Virgil (Holy Ghost, 2018, etc.) to help out. Trane doesn’t want his help, but she’s won over by his determination to avoid taking the credit for any new leads and his success in finding a lead almost immediately: a hair on the yoga mat in Quill’s carrel that didn’t come from anybody’s head. Spurred on by the discovery, Trane comes up with a lead of her own: a hidden recording in which three men, one of them probably Quill, discuss a highly questionable medical procedure. Now, instead of too few leads, there are too many. Was Quill murdered by Ruth McDonald, whose quadriplegic husband killed himself after just such a procedure? By Quill’s own estranged third wife, in search of a bigger payoff than her prenup allowed? By professor Katherine Green, whose Cultural Science approach to medications he’d claimed had given fuel to rabid anti-vaxxers? By Boyd Nash, a sociopathic patent troll who’s made a specialty of taking credit for other people’s discoveries and accepting payoffs to go away quietly? Or by another suspect for still another reason Virgil and Trane can’t yet imagine?

Steadily absorbing revelations of all manner of malfeasance, beautifully handled, even if the final twist is less than the best.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53661-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

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THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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