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THE UNEXPECTED HOSTAGE

Riveting adventure and romance power this forceful first novel.

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An American tech exec is caught up in international terrorism as she also battles personal demons in McKenzie’s thriller.

Tess Bennett is having a bad week, trying to chase away some of the demons of her past at a sketchy punk club in London. But things only get worse for the American tech executive, who, while filling in for her boss and CEO at a conference, is taken hostage by terrorists determined to steal an encryption computer code called Firefly that was developed by Tess’ company. Tess is held hostage with Mark Nygaard, a widowed Norwegian doctor dealing with his own grief. They plot a thrilling escape and strike up a romance that plays out against a backdrop of terrorism and computer espionage. After Tess and Mark get away, the extortionists go after her boss, David Kingsley, CEO of Kingsley Tech, and the new couple fight to save him and keep the software out of the wrong hands. The software isn’t just the lucrative product of the company Tess works for; it was developed by Kyle, her fiance, who was killed in a car wreck a year before. What seemed like an accident proves to be murder, and Tess and Mark work to bring the killers to justice, helped by clues Kyle left for Tess. The investigation takes Tess to the dark web and headfirst into the world of cyberterrorism and blackmail. In her debut novel, the author writes with a sure touch, creating thrill-a-minute adventure scenes while also excelling at the tender, romantic moments. The plot is intricate without being convoluted, and the characters, especially Tess and Mark, are layered and memorable. Tess is a character you want to know more about (“Danger Dad taught her countless precautions throughout her childhood. Hypervigilant but teetering on paranoid, he required she study martial arts and master basic weaponry, even fencing”), and her romance with Mark, which could have been just a convenient plot device, comes off as real and organic. Hopefully Tess and Mark will return in future volumes for more intrigue.

Riveting adventure and romance power this forceful first novel.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2023

ISBN: 9781509249831

Page Count: 376

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc.

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023

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CITY IN RUINS

If you love good crime writing but aren’t familiar with Winslow’s work, read this trilogy in order.

The dramatic conclusion to the trilogy about two New England crime families begun in City on Fire (2022) and City of Dreams (2023).

Near the end of his journey, multimillionaire Danny Ryan watches a casino implode in a mushroom cloud of dust and muses about his life’s implosions: “The cancer that killed his wife, the depression that destroyed his love, the moral rot that took his soul.” Danny is from Providence, Rhode Island, and desperately tried to leave his criminal life behind him. But using a ton of ill-gotten gains, he invests heavily in Las Vegas properties. Congress is conducting an investigation into gambling that could destroy his casino business and even land him in jail. An FBI agent plans to take Danny down for major sins he’d like to repent for. Meanwhile, can he make peace with his enemies? Nope, doesn’t look like it. Even if the parties involved want to put the past behind them, the trouble is that they don’t trust each other. Is Vern Winegard setting Dan up? Is Dan setting Vern up? “Trust? Trust is children waiting for Santa Claus.” So what could have been a “Kumbaya,” nobody-wants-to-read-this story turns into a grisly bloodletting filled with language that would set Sister Mary Margaret’s wimple on fire—figuratively speaking, as she’s not in the book. But the Catholic reference is appropriate: Two of the many colorful characters of ill repute are known as the Altar Boys, serving “Last Communion” to their victims. On the law-abiding side and out of the line of fire is an ex-nun-turned-prosecutor nicknamed Attila the Nun, who’s determined to bring justice for a gory matricide. (Rhode Island really had such a person, by the way.) Finally, the prose is just fun: A friend warns Dan about Allie Licata: “In a world of sick fucks, even the sick fucks think Licata’s a sick fuck.” A couple of things to note: This not only ends the trilogy, but it also closes out the author’s career, as he has said he’ll write no more novels.

If you love good crime writing but aren’t familiar with Winslow’s work, read this trilogy in order.

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9780063079472

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE DEVLINS

As an adjunct member says, “You’re not a family, you’re a force.” Exactly, though not in the way you’d expect.

The ne’er-do-well son of a successful Irish American family gets dragged into criminal complications that suggest the rest of the Devlins aren’t exactly the upstanding citizens they appear.

The first 35 years in the life of Thomas “TJ” Devlin have been one disappointment after another to his parents, lawyers who founded a prosperous insurance and reinsurance firm, and his more successful siblings, John and Gabby. A longtime alcoholic who’s been unemployable ever since he did time for an incident involving his ex-girlfriend Carrie’s then 2-year-old daughter, TJ is nominally an investigator for Devlin & Devlin, but everyone knows the post is a sinecure. Things change dramatically when golden-boy John tells TJ that he just killed Neil Lemaire, an accountant for D&D client Runstan Electronics. Their speedy return to the murder scene reveals no corpse, so the brothers breathe easier—until Lemaire turns up shot to death in his car. John’s way of avoiding anything that might jeopardize his status as heir apparent to D&D is to throw TJ under the bus, blaming him for everything John himself has done and adding that you can’t trust anything his brother has said since he’s fallen off the wagon. TJ, who’s maintained his sobriety a day at a time for nearly two years, feels outraged, but neither the police investigating the murder nor his nearest and dearest care about his feelings. Forget the forgettable mystery, whose solution will leave you shrugging instead of gasping, and focus on the circular firing squad of the Devlins, and you’ll have a much better time than TJ.

As an adjunct member says, “You’re not a family, you’re a force.” Exactly, though not in the way you’d expect.

Pub Date: March 26, 2024

ISBN: 9780525539704

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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