A flawed but entertaining tale of assassins and diverting character interactions.




In Arvind’s debut thriller, a young Indian woman trained in weapons and combat goes after the group of people responsible for her parents’ deaths.

After professionals, possibly American, kidnap 20-year-old Sonia, they let her go for reasons not exactly clear. This does, however, seemingly indicate that she’s in danger, along with the family with whom she lives in Bangalore. Her uncle, aunt, and cousin flee to Cape Town, South Africa, but Sonia stays behind. Her parents died in an explosion years ago, but they left their daughter a list of 11 intelligence and investigative agents they suspected of wanting to murder them. Sonia first seeks out Rohan, whose parents died in the same bombing and with whom Sonia shares a romantic past from five years earlier. Sonia and the team of friends she ultimately assembles have all undergone combat training, but Rohan has not. So the group trains him in archery and other skills he may need. Sonia and her friends plan to take out the targets in various cities throughout India. They will just have to overcome hurdles such as in-fighting among the team’s couples (or potential couples) as well as the authorities who are pursuing them for homicides they may or may not have committed. Arvind’s surprisingly upbeat story of assassins regularly focuses on the team’s conflicts. These feel lighthearted compared to the periodic hits, even when reunited exes resort to a physical scuffle. But some of the story consists of outright comedy, particularly Sonia’s distaste for beards and her designating Rohan’s as one of his most dreadful traits. At the same time, the assassinations end quickly, which tones down the violence. As welcome as it is to see female characters who are as strong as the males, the novel abounds with grammatical errors (such as using “your” instead of “you’re”) and occasional bizarre phrasing (“At sharp 6:45 am”). Arvind also leaves out some pertinent details, from that of a target’s actual death to how a “mini-gun” on Sonia’s finger works.

A flawed but entertaining tale of assassins and diverting character interactions.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4828-3780-3

Page Count: 142

Publisher: Partridge Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2020

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


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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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.


Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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