by Adrian Magson ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 4, 2021
A solid cat-and-mouse thriller with a refreshing breakout character.
A compromised CIA agent makes a dangerous trek west while his stateside handler searches for answers.
In Lebanon, CIA deep cover specialist Marc Portman barely escapes an attack by an unsteady sniper. Acting quickly, Portman, who narrates his chapters in a gritty first-person, skillfully takes out his would-be Russian assassin and is rewarded by finding a picture of himself on the corpse. At that point, the tale embarks on a round-the-world circuit from Beirut to Moscow, where Konstantin Basalayev expresses frustration at the failed mission, to Langley, Virginia, where Portman’s CIA handler, Brian Callahan, expresses frustration that he’s the only one concerned with Portman’s safety. Portman’s rescue in Lebanon has come from a most unlikely source: middle-aged British operative Isobel Hunt, formerly with MI6, now an independent contractor with Her Majesty’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. Just as she scoops up Portman and drives him to a safe house in a hijacked jeep, the maverick Isobel also hijacks and galvanizes Magson’s conventional plot and familiar characters. And Magson knows it: He credits “the real Isobel Hunt” in his acknowledgements. Sadly, after getting Portman safely to Cyprus, Isobel exits the story. In her place, Portman connects with CIA agent Lindsay Citera, but a key question nags Callahan: Who’s the CIA mole endangering Portman’s life? Writing with a crisp authority that’s both familiar and involving, Magson builds tension steadily. This author of three action series should consider a spinoff for the singular Ms. Hunt.A solid cat-and-mouse thriller with a refreshing breakout character.
Pub Date: May 4, 2021
Page Count: 256
Publisher: Severn House
Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021
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by Don Bentley ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 5, 2023
Lots of violent action with little payoff.
Jack Ryan Jr. is back to risk life and limb in saving a teenage girl from international killers while his father, U.S. President Jack Ryan Sr., figures out what to do with Iran’s clandestine uranium enrichment facility, hidden in a mine.
Junior, head of the secret intelligence outfit The Campus, which was functionally wiped out in Tom Clancy Flash Point (2023), is heading across Texas to a rendezvous with his fiancee, Lisanne Robertson, a one-armed former Marine and cop. He’s waylaid by the aftermath of a multi-vehicle accident that he discovers resulted from a gun attack that left a driver hanging on for life, and now puts Jack in the crosshairs of the gunmen. A tip leads him to a 4 a.m. meeting with Amanda, a single mom whose impetuous daughter, Bella, has run off with her highly undesirable boyfriend only to be abducted by the baddies. Meanwhile...in the nation’s capital, American surveillance has determined that Iran is on the cusp of nuclear armament. The only way to stop them is unleashing an unpiloted and untested super plane with massive destructive power. The book’s treatment of Iran’s “existential threat to the entire globe” as a subplot is rather curious, to say the least. You keep waiting for Bentley to connect the two stories, but that happens only superficially. Late in the book, we are told as an afterthought that Iran’s immediate threat had been “mitigated.” Unfortunately, there is no mitigation of the novel’s hackneyed prose—"The analytical portion of Jack’s brain couldn’t help but be impressed.”Lots of violent action with little payoff.
Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023
Page Count: 512
Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023
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by David Baldacci ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 11, 2022
Fascinating main characters and a clever plot add up to an exciting read.
A thriller with bloody murders and plenty of suspects and featuring an unlikely partnership between two FBI investigators.
FBI consultant Amos Decker has a lot on his mind. The huge fellow once played for the Cleveland Browns in the NFL until he received a catastrophic brain injury, leaving him with synesthesia; he sees death as electric blue. More pertinent to the plot, he also has hyperthymesia, or spontaneous and highly accurate recall. On the one hand, his memories can be horrible. He’d once come home to find his wife and daughter murdered, dead in pools of blood. Later, he listens helplessly on the telephone while his ex-partner shoots herself in the mouth. On the other hand, his memory helps him solve every case he's given. Now he's sent to Florida with a brand-new partner, Special Agent Frederica White, to investigate the murder of a federal judge. Both partners are pissed at their last-minute pairing, and they immediately see themselves as a bad fit. White is a diminutive Black single mother of two who has a double black belt in karate “because I hate getting my ass kicked.” (The author doesn't mention Decker's race, but since he's being contrasted with his new partner in every way, perhaps readers are expected to see him as White. Clarity would be nice.) Their case is strange: Judge Julia Cummins was stabbed 10 times and her face covered with a mask, while her bodyguard was shot to death. Decker and White puzzle over the “very contrarian crime scene” where two murders seem to have been committed by two different people in the same place. The plot gets complex, with suspects galore. But the interpersonal dynamic between Decker and White is just as interesting as the solution to the murders, which doesn't come easily. At first, they’d like to be done with each other and go their separate ways. But as they work together, their mutual respect rises and—alas—the tension between them fades almost completely. The pair will make a great series duo, especially if a bit of that initial tension between them returns. And Baldacci shouldn’t give Decker a pass on his tortured memories, because readers enjoy suffering heroes. It's not enough that his near-perfect recall helps him in his job.Fascinating main characters and a clever plot add up to an exciting read.
Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022
Page Count: 448
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022
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