A sometimes-slow series installment, but one that continues to develop its rugged hero.

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Blind Impact

From the The Gabriel Wolfe Thrillers series , Vol. 2

A former British soldier’s assignment to investigate an experimental drug becomes a hostage-rescue mission in Maslen’s (Trigger Point, 2015) thriller.

Gabriel Wolfe is still tormented by his decision, while he was in the Special Air Service, to leave dead trooper Mickey “Smudge” Smith behind in the Mozambique jungle. While shaken by a vision of Smudge, he sprints out of an art gallery and gets run down by a delivery truck driving on the wrong side of the road. He wakes up from a 19-day coma at a hospital for veterans, his care courtesy of his former commanding officer, Don Webster. Don now runs a counterterrorism unit and wants Gabriel to look into something called “Gulliver,” a performance-enhancing drug that Dreyer Pharma is developing. Military Typhoon pilots who’ve taken the drug, including Gabriel’s hospital roommate Tom Ainsley, have hallucinated and gone blind, and some have died in resultant crashes. The upcoming Farnborough Airshow, during which Dreyer will demonstrate Gulliver, could prove lethal. However, Dreyer CEO James Bryant is staving off any investigations, yielding to demands from Chechen terrorists led by Kasym Drezna, who’s holding James’ wife, Sarah, and daughter, Chloe, captive. Kasym wants the air show to fail in order to discredit the drug, so that the Chechens can make a move against potential Gulliver buyer Oleg Abramov. Man-of-action Gabriel could resolve everything, though, by saving the Bryant women. Maslen introduced Gabriel’s Smudge-related back story in the preceding novel, and this time Gabriel seeks professional help for what’s likely PTSD. It’s a welcome vulnerability for the recurring protagonist, who’s seemingly undefeatable in physical altercations. Gabriel also dabbles in espionage here, adopting the persona “Terry Fox” to inquire covertly about Chechens in Estonia and forming an unsteady alliance with Russian mobster Yuri Volkov. It’s more than halfway into the book before Gabriel considers saving the hostages, but Maslen wisely provides the perspective of Sarah and Chloe, who fight back and attempt escape rather than sit idly by. The story is occasionally plodding, particularly when readers are steps ahead of Gabriel; for example, they’ll easily decipher quick-witted Chloe’s message, which she hides in a video. Nevertheless, the narrative ends by teasing even more adventures for Gabriel in the future.

A sometimes-slow series installment, but one that continues to develop its rugged hero.

Pub Date: April 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5307-9972-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Tyton Press

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2016

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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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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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