In Season of the Machete, actor Lou Diamond Phillips does an outstanding job presenting complex accents and distinctive characterizations, both male and female. His steady tone adds greatly to this story of a small Caribbean island paradise ripped apart by racial tension. Damian and Carrie Rose are "Killers for Hire"; they've been contacted by a Mafia family to disrupt the tranquility of San Dominica, a small island catering to middle-class tourists. The Mafia wants to make the vicious killings appear to be the work of a rebel island native who uses machetes as freely as the Roses use guns. When a young American working in an island hotel accidentally witnesses one of the killings and is able to identify the elusive Damian, the murders increase in intensity and the entire Caribbean is threatened with rebellions. This straight-forward mystery moves relentlessly to a violent and unexpected conclusion. Not so fortunate is The Thomas Berryman Number, which suffers from a meandering plot and a bewildering cast of characters. Reader Will Patton does his best to keep things in order, skillfully using honeyed Southern accents to tell the story of an ambitious newspaper reporter who investigates the assassination of a beloved African American leader. Those patient enough to wade through the molasses-thick tale will find a rewarding climax awaiting them as the action moves from murders in the South to a riveting manhunt in the North. Patterson has legions of fans; these two books will find an eager audience. The other titles in this series (e.g., Honeymoon, Mary, Mary, and London Bridges) should be well within the budgets of public libraries large and small.-Joseph L. Carlson, Allan Hancock Coll., Lompoc, CA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.