A compelling political thriller with a loyal friendship and an intriguing love affair at its center.

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A young political protégé is caught up in a web of murder and other intrigue.

Teddy Thompson is a wunderkind in the political world, the mentee of a congressman who becomes a senator and then aspires to the White House. The novel starts with Teddy’s childhood in Connecticut, where he strikes up a friendship with the then-congressman’s daughter, Charlotte Pennington. Though always skirting around romantic involvement, they are the best of friends, ending up at Georgetown together, where Teddy begins to intern with Charlotte’s father, Sen. Conrad Pennington. Teddy also makes fast friends with Braden Edwards, a charismatic soccer player who becomes Charlotte’s boyfriend. Her father’s run for the vice presidency will lead to Braden’s murder, and Teddy’s and Charlotte’s lives, of course, will be changed forever. McMahon’s novel is part political thriller but also, as the author is quick to point out, part romance. “This is a story of misconduct, of power, of senators and leaders and children,” he writes in the prologue. “But it is, above all else, a love story. You cannot doubt that. You must not.” And that it is, several love stories in fact: of Teddy and Charlotte, Teddy and Conrad Pennington, and Teddy and politics. McMahon has concocted a taut thriller with twists and turns that start from the very beginning and don’t let up. Most of all, he has created a memorable cast, none of whom is without flaws. They’re all likable in their ways, but they’re also despicable at times, which gives them real depth. In the tradition of Jeffrey Archer and John Grisham, McMahon manages to tell a complicated story in a straightforward manner. Something else he does well? He leaves us wanting more. Though the end of novel comes to a satisfying, if troubling, conclusion, it also signals the beginning of a new chapter in Teddy and Charlotte’s story. We can only hope the rest of their tale is forthcoming—and that it will be as good a read as this one.

A compelling political thriller with a loyal friendship and an intriguing love affair at its center.

Pub Date: May 30, 2023

ISBN: 9798987918104

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Some Other Time Books

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023


Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.

A much-beloved author gives a favorite recurring character her own novel.

Holly Gibney made her first appearance in print with a small role in Mr. Mercedes (2014). She played a larger role in The Outsider (2018). And she was the central character in If It Bleeds, a novella in the 2020 collection of the same name. King has said that the character “stole his heart.” Readers adore her, too. One way to look at this book is as several hundred pages of fan service. King offers a lot of callbacks to these earlier works that are undoubtedly a treat for his most loyal devotees. That these easter eggs are meaningless and even befuddling to new readers might make sense in terms of costs and benefits. King isn’t exactly an author desperate to grow his audience; pleasing the people who keep him at the top of the bestseller lists is probably a smart strategy, and this writer achieved the kind of status that whatever he writes is going to be published. Having said all that, it’s possible that even his hardcore fans might find this story a bit slow. There are also issues in terms of style. Much of the language King uses and the cultural references he drops feel a bit creaky. The word slacks occurs with distracting frequency. King uses the phrase keeping it on the down-low in a way that suggests he probably doesn’t understand how this phrase is currently used—and has been used for quite a while. But the biggest problem is that this narrative is framed as a mystery without delivering the pleasures of a mystery. The reader knows who the bad guys are from the start. This can be an effective storytelling device, but in this case, waiting for the private investigator heroine to get to where the reader is at the beginning of the story feels interminable.

Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781668016138

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023


Lots of violent action with little payoff.

Jack Ryan Jr. is back to risk life and limb in saving a teenage girl from international killers while his father, U.S. President Jack Ryan Sr., figures out what to do with Iran’s clandestine uranium enrichment facility, hidden in a mine.

Junior, head of the secret intelligence outfit The Campus, which was functionally wiped out in Tom Clancy Flash Point (2023), is heading across Texas to a rendezvous with his fiancee, Lisanne Robertson, a one-armed former Marine and cop. He’s waylaid by the aftermath of a multi-vehicle accident that he discovers resulted from a gun attack that left a driver hanging on for life, and now puts Jack in the crosshairs of the gunmen. A tip leads him to a 4 a.m. meeting with Amanda, a single mom whose impetuous daughter, Bella, has run off with her highly undesirable boyfriend only to be abducted by the baddies. the nation’s capital, American surveillance has determined that Iran is on the cusp of nuclear armament. The only way to stop them is unleashing an unpiloted and untested super plane with massive destructive power. The book’s treatment of Iran’s “existential threat to the entire globe” as a subplot is rather curious, to say the least. You keep waiting for Bentley to connect the two stories, but that happens only superficially. Late in the book, we are told as an afterthought that Iran’s immediate threat had been “mitigated.” Unfortunately, there is no mitigation of the novel’s hackneyed prose—"The analytical portion of Jack’s brain couldn’t help but be impressed.”

Lots of violent action with little payoff.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9780593422816

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023

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