This agile thriller makes doing the right thing both nerve-wracking and exciting.

THE FOREST OF SMOKE AND FOG

In this novel, a disenchanted man discovers he can go home again—but will he face a killer there?

McGlothlin introduces readers to John Kelton. Not ready to enter the family lumber business, John becomes a teacher in North Carolina. But after his father, Marvin, dies in a hunting accident, John heads home to Watauga, Tennessee. Also returning is his status-driven older brother, Mark, who has been estranged from their father. While John inherited Marvin’s liquid assets, Mark inherited 90% of the timber company. A local coal company with a questionable reputation has made an above-value offer for the business, and Mark is eager to accept and leave town. But John resolves to find a way to buy out Mark and preserve the local economy. His only ally is Elisa Endrizzi, a pretty broker helping him to raise the needed capital. John also finds his father’s death to be suspicious, but he can’t get anyone to believe him, starting with the local sheriff. The harder John pushes, the more he gets trapped in a conspiracy. At one point, he is jailed as a suspect in the death of his father’s flaky girlfriend. But John is determined to solve the mystery of Marvin’s death while simultaneously saving his family’s legacy and staying alive. In this complex mystery, McGlothlin successfully plays long-term corporate responsibility against short-term greed. Although no business executive, John wants to assist those living in his hometown while others profiting from the timber company, initially including his brother, are less concerned with the residents’ fates. John doesn’t help himself by throwing around half-cocked accusations, making enemies of those whose aid he might need. He quickly becomes the boy who cried wolf. But by kicking over every rock, he may eventually get to the truth. Unfortunately, none of the secondary characters are as well drawn as John, Elisa, and Mark. But McGlothlin skillfully muddies the waters with many suspects benefitting from Marvin’s death, which in part results in John’s scorched-earth approach. The story’s biggest drawback is that the true culprit becomes apparent far too soon. Still, the author’s fast-paced narrative makes this taut tale a quick, enjoyable read.

This agile thriller makes doing the right thing both nerve-wracking and exciting.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2020

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A bracing test of the maxim that “the department always comes first. The department always wins.”

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THE DARK HOURS

Meet today’s LAPD, with both good and bad apples reduced to reacting to crimes defensively instead of trying to prevent them, unless of course they’re willing to break the rules.

New Year’s Eve 2020 finds Detective Renée Ballard, survivor of rape and Covid-19, partnered with Detective Lisa Moore, of Hollywood’s Sexual Assault Unit, in search of leads on the Midnight Men, a tag team of rapists who assaulted women on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve without leaving any forensic evidence behind. The pair are called to the scene of a shooting that would have gone to West Bureau Homicide if the unit weren’t already stretched to the limit, a case that should be handed over to West Bureau ASAP. But Ballard gets her teeth into the murder of body shop owner Javier Raffa, who reportedly bought his way out of the gang Las Palmas. The news that Raffa’s been shot by the same weapon that killed rapper Albert Lee 10 years ago sends Ballard once more to Harry Bosch, the poster boy for retirements that drive the LAPD crazy. Both victims had taken on silent partners in order to liquidate their debts, and there’s every indication that the partners were linked. That’s enough for Ballard and Bosch to launch a shadow investigation even as Ballard, abandoned by Moore, who’s flown the coop for the weekend, works feverishly to identify the Midnight Men on her own. As usual in this stellar series, the path to the last act is paved with false leads, interdepartmental squabbles, and personal betrayals, and the structure sometimes sways in the breeze. But no one who follows Ballard and Bosch to the end will be disappointed.

A bracing test of the maxim that “the department always comes first. The department always wins.”

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-48564-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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Dirk Cussler carries on what his father started in a series that never gets old.

CLIVE CUSSLER'S THE DEVIL'S SEA

In the 26th of the lively Dirk Pitt Adventures, the family finds trouble on the high seas and in the high mountains.

Trouble comes looking for Dirk Pitt and his children, Dirk and Summer, in the strangest and most entertaining ways. (Mom is in Congress and misses all the fun.) Fans know that the elder Pitt is Director of NUMA, the National Underwater and Marine Agency, and that he’s not one to “sail a desk.” So they’re in the seas near the Philippines on a research project when they come across a sunken ship and the remnants of a Chinese rocket. The Chinese are upset that their secret Mach-25 rocket has failed once again. Then the area begins to get hit with unexplained tsunamis while Dirk Senior and his colleague Al Giordino explore the depths in Stingray, their submersible. The plot splits off when Dad asks son and daughter to fly to Taiwan to return a large stone antiquity they find in an aircraft that had disappeared in 1963. A Taiwanese museum official recognized it as the Nechung Idol from Tibet, so the siblings head to northern India. Dad rescues a woman from drowning and gets embroiled in a nasty conflict involving her father, a hijacked ship, and guys with guns and nefarious intentions. Meanwhile, young Dirk and Summer wind up in the Himalayas as they try to take the precious stone to the Dalai Lama. There, they try not to get themselves killed by bullets or hypothermia as they stay a step ahead of more villains who want the idol. The Pitts are all great characters—clever, gutsy, and lucky. When he and Giordino find themselves in a heck of a pickle in an area called The Devil’s Sea, Dad Pitt declares a great American truism: “Nothing’s impossible with a little duct tape.” And everything sticks together in the end—the tsunamis, the rocket, the idol. As with all the Dirk Pitt yarns, the action is fast and over-the-top, and the violence is only what’s needed to advance the story.

Dirk Cussler carries on what his father started in a series that never gets old.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-41964-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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