Freeman’s first Jason Bourne thriller is a treat for fans of the late Robert Ludlum.

ROBERT LUDLUM'S THE BOURNE EVOLUTION

Novelist Freeman nails the Ludlum style in the latest Jason Bourne adventure.

Without apparent motive, a man with no known criminal history or mental illness opens fire on a Las Vegas crowd and slaughters 66 people. More than a year later, a New York congresswoman is murdered, shot in the neck. The congresswoman had been about to expose a large-scale data hacking scandal in big tech. The suspect is an “ex-government operative gone rogue” code-named Cain. That’s the hero, Jason Bourne. Fans know that as Cain, he was a professional assassin before a gunshot wound stole all memory of his past. Treadstone, his former organization, believes he’s out of control and wants him dead. Good luck with that, because “Bourne was a ghost. Impossible to kill.” So Bourne agrees to meet secretly with a journalist in Quebec City who has written about the Vegas killings and is investigating the congresswoman’s murder. Nothing goes right, of course. Later, Bourne agrees to find a connection between that killing and a mysterious organization called Medusa. What follows is plenty of well-plotted action of the bloodletting variety. The main threat to society is a software application called Prescix. People think it’s cool because it predicts what they’re going to do before they know it themselves. They don’t realize that it’s controlling what they’re going to do. That is plausible, scary stuff, but for a real scare meet the superb villain Miss Shirley. She warns people, “at all times when we are together to call me Miss Shirley.” That’s in every sentence, with violations punishable by a bullet in the throat, even if she’s just treated a guy to the best sex ever. The showdown between Bourne and Miss Shirley is one for the ages.

Freeman’s first Jason Bourne thriller is a treat for fans of the late Robert Ludlum.

Pub Date: July 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-54259-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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Fast-paced fun that’s fraught with peril. The Bells are such a nice couple.

THE SABOTEURS

Malign forces want to slow completion of the Panama Canal, but Isaac Bell has plenty to say about that in his 12th tale of derring-do.

In 1914, the U.S. is digging an enormous ditch across the mosquito-infested isthmus of Panama, with “mechanical dragons wreathed in steam” ripping out eight tons at a time in the Culebra Cut. Horrific incidents happen, and they’re not always accidents. A mysterious terrorist group called Viboras Rojas, or Red Vipers, seems responsible for an explosion that kills dozens and delays the canal’s construction. Isaac Bell of the Van Dorn Detective Agency is sent there to investigate, and a team of wild horses wouldn’t keep his wife, Marion, from coming along. Bell keeps mighty busy. Within days, he’s “thwarted an assassination attempt and brought a mad bomber to heel,” and he’s just getting started. The detective is exceptionally observant and ingenious. How he survives a catastrophic landslide is such a combination of quick thinking and luck that readers will hold their breath as they turn the pages, only realizing later how unlikely it all is. Meanwhile, Germany conspires with Argentina to severely delay the canal’s opening—Argentina would lose plenty of oceangoing commerce, and as it girds for war in Europe, Germany fears America’s rise as a global power. The proximate villain is Otto Dreissen, who correctly believes that former President Teddy Roosevelt won’t be able to resist traveling to see “the most transformative engineering feat in history…dangers be damned”—and there is danger, since the kaiser has authorized Roosevelt's assassination. But first Dreissen must arrange an “accident” for Bell, the “man with the nine lives of a cat.” Poor Otto. He should know it’s not that easy to kill off a series hero. Nor a series hero’s wife, even when she’s dangling from a dirigible. A bonus tip to readers: Stay away from manchineel trees and superheated steam.

Fast-paced fun that’s fraught with peril. The Bells are such a nice couple.

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-19122-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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The first of Woods’ many collaborations to be unquestionably inferior to his solo performances.

JACKPOT

CIA operative–turned-killer Teddy Fay, aka Hollywood producer Billy Barnett, gets his fifth sort-of-starring role in a splashy, muddled thriller set in Macau.

Centurion Studios president Ben Bacchetti and his partner, director Peter Barrington, see no reason why their visit to the Macau Film Festival should be all business. They’re dismayed when their visit to a baccarat table at the Golden Desert Casino and Resort is used as material for a deep-fake video that seems to show them cheating. The video, which has evidently been engineered by Bing-Wen “Bingo” Jo, bids fair drag them into the iron grip of fearsome media/casino mogul Arrow Donaldson, for whom Bingo works off the books on matters concerning digital technology and violence. But Centurion producer Teddy, who’s every bit the equal of Bingo and Donaldson fixer Zhou "Ziggy" Peng put together, is on the case. His improbable sometime partners are Li Feng, the heiress and CFO of QuiTel who’s fighting to keep her company exempt from the U.S. blacklist of competing Chinese telecom corporations suspected of spying, and Millie Martindale, a CIA administrator who’s a lot more resourceful than most administrators you’ll ever meet. The first partnership between Woods and Quertermous is full of casino underlings, biddable cops, fake shootings, and doubles living and dead. But the plot never thickens, and readers confident that Teddy will live to fight, pressure, cheat, and kill another day may be indifferent to the fate of the nefarious forces arrayed against him.

The first of Woods’ many collaborations to be unquestionably inferior to his solo performances.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18845-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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