A smart, timely thriller weakened only by the abrupt narrative jumps among the decades covered.

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THE PRINCE OF BAGRAM PRISON

Carr (An Accidental American, 2007, etc.) shows a straight-shooting soldier coming up against decades of treachery in America’s intelligence machinery.

This provocative tale of military intelligence gone haywire is marred only by rapid and bewildering shifts of time and territory from the 1970s to the early 2000s, Afghanistan and Spain to Vietnam and Morocco. At the murky center is Jamal, snatched at birth from an unwed Moroccan who had incurred the displeasure of King Hassan’s regime. Fleeing the squalid orphanage where he was dumped, teenaged Jamal managed to make it across the straits to Spain and then into the pipeline leading to Afghanistan in the middle of the war on the Taliban. He was of interest to coalition interrogators there because of the older Iranians with whom he arrived; one of those men died in custody, the other escaped. Jamal’s interrogator was Army specialist Katherine “Kat” Caldwell, a fluent Arabic speaker thanks to her training at the Defense Language Institute. At the time she interrogated Jamal, Kat was involved with one of the Brits who had a hand in the death of Jamal’s Iranian companion. These connections come into play when, years later, Kat is summoned from her civilian job at a military school, ordered back on duty and sent to Spain to find Jamal, who has eluded the agents now on his trail. Why those agents killed Kat’s old boyfriend and why they want to kill Jamal when they find him are secrets only gradually revealed to Kat and the reader as she follows her gut instincts to locate the boy. Neither Jamal nor Kat knows anything about the devils haunting “Mr. Harry,” as Jamal calls the retired spook he went to for help when he realized he was in danger, but Harry Comfort knows that they are up against bad guys entrenched at the heart of the American intelligence machinery, men who want all of them dead.

A smart, timely thriller weakened only by the abrupt narrative jumps among the decades covered.

Pub Date: March 18, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8129-7709-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Mortalis/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2008

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Now that Coben’s added politics to his heady brew, expect sex and religion to join the mix.

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THE BOY FROM THE WOODS

Coben’s latest darkest-suburbs thriller sets a decidedly offbeat detective on the trail of a crime with overtones unmistakably redolent of once and future presidential elections.

Wilde is called Wilde because nobody’s known his real name from the moment a pair of hikers found him foraging for himself in Ramapo Mountain State Forest 24 years ago. Now over 40, he’s had experience as both a lost boy and a private investigator. That makes him an obvious person to help when his godson, Sweet Water High School student Matthew Crimstein, expresses concern to his grandmother, attorney Hester Crimstein, that his bullied classmate Naomi Pine has gone missing. Matthew doesn’t really want anyone to help. He doesn’t even want anyone to notice his agitation. But Hester, taking the time from her criminal defense of financial consultant Simon Greene (Run Away, 2019) to worm the details out of him, asks Wilde to lend a hand, and sure enough, Wilde, unearthing an unsavory backstory that links Naomi to bullying classmate Crash Maynard, whose TV producer father, Dash Maynard, is close friends with reality TV star–turned–presidential hopeful Rusty Eggers, finds Naomi hale and hearty. Everything’s hunky-dory for one week, and then she disappears again. And this time, so does Crash after a brief visit to Matthew in which he tearfully confesses his guilt about the bad stuff he did to Naomi. This second disappearance veers into more obviously criminal territory with the arrival of a ransom note that demands, not money, but the allegedly incriminating videotapes of Rusty Eggers that Dash and Delia Maynard have had squirreled away for 30 years. The tapes link Rusty to a forgotten and forgettable homicide and add a paranoid new ripped-from-the-headlines dimension to the author’s formidable range. Readers who can tune out all the subplots will find the kidnappers easy to spot, but Coben finds room for three climactic surprises, one of them a honey.

Now that Coben’s added politics to his heady brew, expect sex and religion to join the mix.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4814-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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