An action-packed thriller featuring sturdy characters.

ULTIMATE RESOLUTION

BOOK #3

From the Alan Joubert Series series

The third installment in Dugan’s (Irrevocable Resolution, 2016, etc.) series finds CIA operative Capt. Alan Joubert facing off against a corrupt, U.S.-funded military unit.

After narrowly surviving his last assignment, Alan has a new CIA handler in the Absolute Resolution program. Taking out cocaine labs and ammunition-stocked warehouses has made him a target in Central and South America, where he typically works, so the agency plans on shifting him to the Middle East and Asia Pacific. But first, he must take out leaders of the Contras in Costa Rica, a military unit financed by the U.S. government. These leaders are reportedly working with a drug cartel and committing war crimes in Nicaragua; soon, Alan is shocked when he witnesses Contra troopers savagely attacking villagers. After he completes his mission, he’s still uncertain that he eliminated the corruption entirely, so, with a few friends, he returns to Costa Rica with CIA support. It soon becomes clear that someone has information about his team, leading to startling deaths and a direct assault against Alan himself. Like earlier installments, Dugan’s novel is episodic (with an unrelated Taipei mission), but it’s primarily concentrated on the Contras. Alan and his cohorts—Rene, Fast Eddie, and Wild Bill, all of whom he’s known since Vietnam—are efficient and disciplined during operations, and the author meticulously details their gear and aspects of their stealth procedures, such as their use of hand signals. Lynn, Alan’s partner in Taipei, is the series’ strongest female character yet—a proficient Chinese-American agent who speaks Mandarin, Cantonese, and Korean. Dugan wisely caters to new readers by offering background info on returning characters, although the story’s 1980s setting won’t be immediately apparent until the appearance of antiquated technology, such as pagers and a cassette player. The ending leaves open the possibility of a sequel, but there’s enough closure to end the series as a trilogy.

An action-packed thriller featuring sturdy characters.

Pub Date: July 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5472-7650-9

Page Count: 178

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2018

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This is fast-paced, nonstop fun. Cussler fans will gobble it up.

JOURNEY OF THE PHARAOHS

Rumors of lost Egyptian treasure spark high adventure in this 17th in the NUMA series featuring oceanographer Kurt Austin and his crew (Sea of Greed, 2018, etc.).

Over 3,000 years ago, grave robbers sail away with loot from a pharaoh’s tomb. In 1927, Jake Melbourne and his plane disappear in his attempt at a trans-Atlantic flight. In the present day, arms merchants known as the Bloodstone Group have taken to stealing antiquities. They are looking for a “treasure both vast and glorious” that hieroglyphics say was shipped down the Nile and out of Egypt, perhaps even west across the Atlantic. (Holy scurvy! That must’ve been a lot of hard rowing!) The criminals are known to MI5 as “very dangerous people" and "merchants selling death.” Perfectly willing to kill everyone in their way, they are aided by mechanical crows and Fydor and Xandra, nasty sibling assassins jointly called the Toymaker. Such are the foes faced by Austin and his team from the National Underwater and Marine Agency. Of course, Austin has no interest in profit; he will gladly leave the ancient riches wherever they are. Action arrives early and often, and the failed pre-Lindbergh flight fits in neatly. Cussler and Brown concoct a nifty plot with disparate, sometimes over-the-top twists that will make even hardcore adventure fans say “Wow!” Expect claustrophobic gunfights, aerial combat, a life-threatening flood, messages from the dead, coffins of gold—and a vintage classic car, because why not? “We’re going to steal the greatest deposit of Egyptian treasure the world has ever known,” brags the evil mastermind. But he’ll have to climb over the series hero’s dead body first, which—no plot spoiler here—ain’t gonna happen.

This is fast-paced, nonstop fun. Cussler fans will gobble it up.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-08308-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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