Beyond Recognition (Boldt and Matthews Series #4)

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Overview

Seattle police sergeant Lou Boldt is stunned when the local fire investigator presents him with frightening evidence in a series of fires that have occurred in the Seattle area. These white-hot fires burn so cleanly that even the ash disintegrates—leaving not a trace of its victims or any evidence of criminal activity. Only when Boldt is taunted by someone sending him pieces of melted green plastic—houses from a Monopoly board—does he realize that an arsonist is involving him in...

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Beyond Recognition (Boldt and Matthews Series #4)

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Overview

Seattle police sergeant Lou Boldt is stunned when the local fire investigator presents him with frightening evidence in a series of fires that have occurred in the Seattle area. These white-hot fires burn so cleanly that even the ash disintegrates—leaving not a trace of its victims or any evidence of criminal activity. Only when Boldt is taunted by someone sending him pieces of melted green plastic—houses from a Monopoly board—does he realize that an arsonist is involving him in a deadly game.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A rag and a bone are literally all the Seattle PD has to work with after a violent fire consumes a home and its helpless female occupant, a divorced mother. When a second victim dies the same way, detective Lou Boldt (Chain of Evidence, etc.) and police psychologist Daphne Matthews (both Pearson regulars) begin the process of profiling a serial killer who uses rocket fuel to torch women because they resemble his mother. Elsewhere, a young boy named Ben, whose abusive stepfather has all but driven him into the street, has been befriended by a fraudulent "psychic" named Emily Richland, who hires Ben to scout her clients' vehicles while they're meeting with her. This task leads, in the novel's best scene, to Ben witnessing an exchange of cash for rocket fuel, a sighting that in turn eventually takes the police to their killer. Much of the plot teeters on the coincidental nature of all these connections, and on the unlikely bits of evidence used to corner the suspect (e.g., a ladder's impressions left on backyard grass). The intricate forensics that have driven so many of Pearson's novels are largely missing here, and secondary characters are sketched quickly and without depth. Even Boldt and Matthews have lost their shine, bickering a lot while insisting that they love one another, while Boldt's long-suffering wife, Liz, is discarded in cruel fashion. But no doubt the Boldt-Matthews team will be back, hopefully to solve cases less confusing and farfetched than this one. Major ad/promo; author tour. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Fans of award-winning thriller writer Pearson take note: Seattle Police Sergeant Lou Boldt is back, battling a scholar-arsonist who vaporizes his victims in hotter-than-hot house fires. Equally dangerous and about to blow is the smoldering romance between Boldt, who's drifting away from his wife, and police department psychologist Daphne Matthews. Pearson masterfully depicts the sparks between them. "A student of people, of behavior, of music, science, the arts," Boldt is an unusually appealing cop who treats himself with elegant high teas and worries about victims as if they were family. A riveting secondary plot involving a motherly psychic and her young accomplice parallels the main one until the two plots converge. Shop talk is authentic, but at times we feel we're hanging around the station too long. Moving from one punchy scene to the next, this fuse-burning suspense tale is wonderful reading for a wide audience. Recommended for all fiction collections; librarians should note that three earlier books in the Boldt-Matthews series are in development with HBO.-Molly Gorman, San Marino, Cal.
Kirkus Reviews
Patricia Cornwell could take lessons from Sgt. Lou Boldt and police psychologist Daphne Matthews (No Witnesses, 1994, etc.) as they go up against a madman arsonist driving down property values in Seattle.

The fires are so hot—one of them shoots a pillar of flame two miles into the air—that they destroy all physical evidence at ground zero, including the victims (the first is identified by a single bone). So The Scholar, so dubbed because he sends fire inspector Steven Garman a quotation from Nietzsche or Lao-tzu before carefully setting each fire, isn't leaving any trace—except one: a series of visits to low-rent psychic Emily Richland to ask whether such-and-such a date is propitious. Emily duly notifies the cops, but, meantime, her unofficial helper, 12- year-old Ben Santori, has already gotten into the act, following her sinister visitor and putting himself squarely in harm's way. At the same time, Boldt and Matthews have managed not only to compile a group portrait of the victims—they're all dark-haired divorcées with children between eight and ten who were spared from the fires that claimed their mothers—but to cobble together enough information about the arsonist's modus operandi to give them a prime suspect. Already on the ropes because of his wife Liz's suspicious behavior, Boldt struggles to put together a case, but not in time to save his family from being driven from their home. Now a point for the diabolically clever Scholar, now a point for the painstaking Boldt and Matthews—until they know enough to stake out a decoy in a hundred-page finale that'll give your heart more exercise than a ten-mile run.

Pearson's dazzling forensics will hook his usual fans. But it's the richness of incident and the control of pace that'll keep them dangling as he switches gears each time you think the story's got to be winding down in this exhilarating entertainment.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786889280
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 8/28/1998
  • Series: Boldt and Matthews Series , #4
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 656
  • Product dimensions: 4.25 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Ridley Pearson

Ridley Pearson is the award-winning co-author, along with Dave Barry, of Peter and the Starcatchers, Peter and the Shadow Thieves, Peter and the Secret of Rundoon, Peter and the Sword of Mercy, Escape From the Carnivale, Cave of the Dark Wind, Blood Tide, and Science Fair. In addition to Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark, Kingdom Keepers: Disney at Dawn, Kingdom Keepers: Disney in Shadow, and Kingdom Keepers: Power Play, he is also the author of the young adult thrillers Steel Trapp: The Challenge and Steel Trapp: The Academy. He has written more than twenty best-selling crime novels, including Killer View and Killer Weekend. He was the first American to be awarded the Raymond Chandler/Fulbright Fellowship in Detective Fiction at Oxford University.

Biography

Crime may not always pay, but crime fiction always sells, and Ridley Pearson is one of the stars of the genre, the kind of writer whose royalties keep his family fed and cover a few extras as well (like, say, his own airplane). Yet Pearson didn't spend his youth dreaming of bestsellerdom. His first ambition was to be a musician, and he spent most of his twenties writing and performing folk-rock songs. The idea that he might become a novelist came later. As he explained in a Barnes and Noble interview, he was reading a Robert Ludlum novel when "a voice spoke up from inside me and said, 'I can do this.'" (Once he began writing and discovered firsthand the skill involved in crafting a cohesive thriller, he realized how much he had presumed!)

Pearson is renowned for fast-paced, thrill-a-minute suspense novels that include "a rare humanism and attention to detail" (Publishers Weekly). In a Greenwich Magazine interview he called his work "aerobic fiction, because I hope to get your heart pounding and get you turning pages." Entertainment Weekly dubbed him "the thinking person's Robert Ludlum."

As his fans know, Pearson works hard at nailing the details of forensic investigation and police procedure. In Undercurrents (the first novel in his Seattle-based Lou Boldt mystery series) his research was so thorough—he consulted an expert in oceanography—that the book helped convict an actual murderer. A Washington state prosecuting attorney happened to be reading it while working on a case similar to Pearson's fictional one: A woman's body had been found in a bay, and at first it appeared that she had committed suicide by jumping off a bridge. The oceanographer mentioned in Pearson's acknowledgments was called in as an expert witness to help prove that, based on tidal currents, the woman must have been dead before the time her husband claimed to have last seen her. Due largely to the expert testimony, the victim's husband was convicted of second-degree murder.

Of course, there's more to a Pearson novel than research. "Just what is it about Ridley Pearson that makes him the best damn thriller writer on the planet?" mused Bill Ott in BookList. "We've celebrated the forensic detail, the taut plotting, the multidimensional characters, and the screw-tightening suspense, but lots of fiction writers do all that. Here's a theory: Pearson is a master at manipulating opposites. His stories are forever jumping from high concept to small scale, from positive to negative charges, manipulating our emotions and minds with their polar hip-hopping."

When he's not writing, Pearson still makes music—he's the bass guitarist for the Rock Bottom Remainders, an amateur rock band made up of professional writers including Stephen King, Dave Barry, Amy Tan, and Mitch Albom (the group's motto, coined by Barry: "We play music as well as Metallica writes novels").

It was while Pearson was in Miami to play with the Rock Bottom Remainders that he told Barry about his idea (actually, daughter Paige's idea) for a prequel to Peter Pan. The two authors had such a good time hashing out possibilities over breakfast that Pearson asked Barry to write the book with him. Published in 2004, their clever collaboration Peter and the Starcatchers became a huge bestseller, spawning two sequels (Peter and the Shadow Thieves in 2006 and Peter and the Secret of Rundoon in 2007) and a series of spin-off children's chapter books.

Even though Pearson thoroughly enjoys crafting juvenile fiction, his adult fans need not worry that he's abandoned his high-voltage crime novels. Indeed, he has said that writing gives him the same "adrenaline rush," no matter which audience he is targeting: Readers of all ages appreciate the imagination, suspense, and an impeccable eye for detail he brings to all his fiction.

Good To Know

Pearson calls himself a workaholic, "not so much by desire as out of necessity," since he reserves a lot of time for his two young daughters. His hobbies, which he now defines as "something you once did and no longer have the time for," include recreational tree climbing, fly-fishing, backyard volleyball, snow boarding—and, of course, bass guitar in his rock band. An avid reviser, Pearson says, "I'm said to have a nervous, worrying disposition, but rarely feel I live up to that description—perhaps internal calm is expressed as external nervosa."

Pearson loves to travel, especially to southern France, with wife Marcelle and second child Storey, who is adopted from China. We're certain to do a good deal of international travel in the years to come. He also attends local symphony and theater. But his "favorite avocation is to spend an evening around our dining table with two or three other couples. This, I feel, is where many of the world's ills are solved, and many souls restored. Mine, especially."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Wendell McCall; Joyce Reardon
    2. Hometown:
      St. Louis, Missouri
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 13, 1953
    2. Place of Birth:
      Glen Cove, New York
    1. Education:
      Kansas University, B.A., Brown University
    2. Website:

Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2012

    Recommend

    Good story line with great character development

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2007

    A reviewer

    I have just about all of R. Pearsons work to date and this is one of his best. Gripping story that makes very hard to put down. I liked the way it kept you guessing in this book and the subltle twists that kept coming. It cant remember a boring part of the book. I would recommend this title to anyone. Ridley is a master in this genre.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2007

    great writer - not enough books

    1st PEARSON NOVEL I ever read ,then I went through everything else he wrote all great!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2001

    An Intricate Thriller

    Pearson's Lou Boldt novels never disappoint me. BEYOND RECOGNITION is an intricate thriller that is a must for staunch crime fiction fans.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2012

    Good plot, but overly long and mostly depressing

    For me, the storyline was fine but there were too many overly long passages. Worse, it seemed like all the primary characters, were dealing with relentlessly depressing situations - a child with a glass eye and an abusive alcoholic step-father, a police sergeant with apparent domestic problems, his unshakeable crush on a female police psychologist who is about to enter into marriage with someone she does not love, and a disfigured arsonist who is targeting woman of a certain profile. There aren't many light-hearted moments.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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