Reviews of Patricia Cornwell

October Reads: Reviews of Patricia Cornwell and Elizabeth George…

With fall in the air and Halloween just around the corner, what better way to settle into the season than with a stack of new mysteries and thrillers? This month’s assortment offers up plenty of new adventures for old faces, with the return of long-running series from the likes of Elizabeth George and Patricia Cornwell as well as promising stand-alones by John Katzenbach and Kate Morton, both of which will appeal to readers who like their crime fiction with a dash of psychological suspense. October also brings the return of the pseudonymous Robert Galbraith, with “his” third Cormoran Strike novel. Perhaps you’re more familiar with the author’s other works of fiction, about a certain boy wizard with a distinctive facial scar and a penchant for stirring up trouble at Hogwarts?

 

The Hot Countries

Timothy Hallinan (Soho Crime, October 6)

STREETSBIn this seventh installment of Hallinan’s Bangkok-set series, after 2014’s For the Dead, American ex-pat Poke Rafferty is approached by a seemingly innocuous stranger in a bar, who turns out to be a trained killer, bent on revenge. The man, Arthur Varney, thinks Poke has $3.8 million—stemming from events in 2012’s The Fear Artist—and Varney wants it. With the help of his cop friend, Arthit, Poke digs deeps into Varney’s past as well as his own while trying to keep his family, which includes his now-pregnant wife, Rose, and his adopted daughter, Miaow, out of harm’s way. There’s an inevitable confrontation on the muggy Bangkok streets, and fans of the series won’t want to miss its violent conclusion.

 

The Dead Student

John Katzenbach (Mysterious Press, October 6)

Katzenbach, who made a name for himself with thrillers like Hart’s War (1999), returns with a psychological whodunit that follows a killer known as Student #5 who murders people he believes kept him out of his chosen field of abnormal psychology. His latest victim is the uncle of alcoholic Ph.D. student Timothy “Moth” Warner, who’s positive that his uncle wouldn’t commit suicide—Student #5 staged the murder to make it look as though Ed shot himself. With the help of his ex-girlfriend, Andy, and his AA friend, Moth launches his own investigation, which takes him across the country as he starts retracing Student #5’s bloody path. Katzenbach spins a satisfying game of cat and mouse as the uber-criminal and the avenging academic eventually square off.

 

The Lake House

Kate Morton (Atria, October 20)

cornwall

Morton (The Secret Keeper) returns to 1930s England for her new psychologically taut novel of long-buried family secrets. The narrative shifts between 1933 in Cornwall, when teenage Alice Edevane’s 11-month-old brother, Theo, is kidnapped from his nursery and never seen again, and the present, when a disgraced London detective, DS Sadie Sparrow, becomes interested in the case and contacts the elderly Alice, now a successful crime writer. As Sparrow digs deeper into what happened to Theo in 1933 while also working to solve her present-day missing persons case, secrets resurface that the Edevane family hoped would never come to light. Even readers adept at guessing plot twists may be surprised by Morton’s surprising conclusion.

 

Career of Evil

Robert Galbraith (Mulholland, October 20)

In Galbraith’s third novel featuring London private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant, Robin Ellacott, a strange package delivered to Robin turns out to be a woman’s severed leg. Strike, being Strike, isn’t wholly surprised that someone connected to him is receiving such a “gift” in the mail: he can think of four people from his past who might be capable of doing such a horrible thing. While the police hone in on one suspect, Strike and Ellacott launch their own investigation, peeling back the layers of the men’s lives to see the ugliness beneath, even as more hideous events occur around them. Career is as much a crime novel as it is an examination of the complex relationship between the two people whose job it is to solve the crimes.

 

A Banquet of Consequences

Elizabeth George (Viking, October 27)

londonlynleyDetective Inspector Lynley and Detective Sergeant Havers return in George’s 19th series installment (after 2013’s Just One Evil Act), and Havers will do anything to avoid a transfer to the north of England. The death in question this time around is the suicide of William Goldacre who, by all appearances, had everything to live for. Yet his mother is wrapped up in the murder of vocal feminist writer Clare Abbott, and it soon becomes clear to Lynley and Havers that there’s more to the Goldacre family than meets the eye, from divorce and adultery to child abuse. The pair work tirelessly to try and connect William’s suicide in Dorset—he threw himself off a cliff—to the unsolved murder in Cambridge but, as in any good George mystery, the plot is deliciously twisted.

 

Depraved Heart

Patricia Cornwell (Morrow, October 27)

Only two months after taking a spear gun to the leg at the hands of Carrie Grethen while scuba diving off the Florida coast, Dr. Kay Scarpetta is back in action in Cornwell’s 23rd series installment (after Flesh and Bone). Grethen, the archnemesis of both Scarpetta and her computer genius niece Lucy, escaped in Florida and remains in the wind, much to Scarpetta’s consternation. Her latest case in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is the alleged accidental death of Chanel Gilbert that she soon concludes is murder. While Scarpetta and the curmudgeonly Pete Marino are investigating the scene, Scarpetta receives a bizarre text, supposedly from Lucy, that links to a nearly 20-year-old video from Lucy’s days in the FBI. Scarpetta knows it’s from Grethen, but she doesn’t know why, or how, Grethen set up the creepy surveillance camera all those years ago or why she’s only sending the footage now. And across town, Lucy’s home is being raided by the FBI, which cannot be a coincidence. Cornwell makes sure that all the forensic details are spot on, so everything feels as authentically creepy as possible.

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One Comment

  1. Loved to hear about the new Elizabeth George. As for Patricia Cornwell, frankly I just gave up on her brand of silliness long ago. She may get her forensic information right, but neice Lucy is the one who did me in!

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