You’ve Been Naughty

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - BOOKS -

Dust, by Pa­tri­cia Cornwell (Put­nam, 512 pages, $31): Yet another fever-vi­sion foren­sic mis­fire star­ring far-be­yond­her-best-by-date med­i­cal ex­am­iner Kay Scar­petta. A gar­den-va­ri­ety se­rial killer tied to a ho-hum Wash­ing­ton con­spir­acy, an an­noy­ingly fa­mil­iar team of uni­formly angst-rid­den char­ac­ters, reams of first­per­son nar­ra­tive doo­dling and gra­tu­itous use of the New­town school mas­sacre as a du­bi­ous plot de­vice — what more could you ask of Amer­ica’s most un­ac­count­ably pop­u­lar crime writer? Well, other than Jimmy Pat­ter­son. King & Maxwell, by David Bal­dacci (Grand Cen­tral, 432 pages, $31): Not even Bal­dacci’s prac­tised style and team of ed­i­tors can save this loopy con­spir­acy con­coc­tion, the sixth in an in­ter­mit­tent se­ries start­ing Se­cret Ser­vice agents-turned-PIs Sean King and Michelle Maxwell. Wanna get a bil­lion eu­ros to Ira­nian in­sur­gents to buy arms? Send it in cash across Afghanistan with one guy. Sure. Wanna knock off the pres­i­dent? Steal the bil­lion, hire a bunch of mer­ce­nar­ies to run in­ter­fer­ence and take over a satel­lite that can hijack the big guy’s car. (And, yes, that is a spoiler, to save you the ef­fort.) Pure drivel. And, of course, tops of the best­seller lists. Sigh. Burnt Black, by Ed Ko­vacs (Mino­taur, 288 pages, $30): Some­one is knock­ing off a thor­oughly nasty cir­cle of New Or­leans sex-magic prac­ti­tion­ers in dis­gust­ing fash­ion. En­ter the kick-ass NOPD de­tec­tive team of Cliff St. James and (no kid­ding) Honey Bay­bee to knock heads and fin­ger the un­likely cul­prit. A lame bid to be whippy and tough-guy smart that not even an over­dose of voodoo can cure. Soon, by Char­lotte Grimshaw (Spi­der­line, 312 pages, $20): The adop­tive daugh­ter of a physi­cian and his wife, given up by a rav­ish­ing, ma­nip­u­la­tive woman be­fore she mar­ried New Zealand’s fu­ture prime min­is­ter, is the pawn in this odd study of love, de­cep­tion and dev­as­tat­ing se­crets. Though spiced by mur­der and be­trayal dur­ing a va­ca­tion re­treat of high-pow­ered folks, it’s ac­tu­ally not much more than a pon­der­ous char­ac­ter study of a uni­formly ba­nal and tire­some cast whose over­wrought ob­ser­va­tions and ma­nip­u­la­tions drown in literary ex­cess.

As­so­ci­ate Ed­i­tor John Sul­li­van runs the Free Press Au­tos, Homes and Travel sec­tions

and spe­cialty web­sites.

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