A bracing page-turner with an unconventional hero.

MURDER LLC

A woman hires a private eye to find her missing brother—who is in trouble with a ruthless Mexican drug cartel leader—in this novel.

Damian Playa, a disillusioned cartel hit man looking to leave the life, has a simple job: Go to a Las Vegas casino, buy $400,000 worth of chips, place a few skimpy bets at a poker table, and cash out. Failure to do so will mean the gang rape and violent deaths of his mother and girlfriend. But after he wins a couple of bets at the roulette table, even that threat isn’t enough to stop Damian from going all in. Inevitably, he loses it all and disappears. His sister, Araceli, hires private investigator Scott Brody to find him. She describes Damian as “a three-time no-talent loser” and tells Brody she does not want the police informed about the situation. “If Damian’s involved in something dirty, like I suspect, I don’t want the cops finding out about it,” she explains. The investigation, inevitably, is not as cut-and-dried as a mere missing person case. It turns out that Don Gaetano’s Cobalt Green Tide cartel is into some deep state doings, and Brody must grapple with an insidious governmental conspiracy and players with hidden agendas. Brody is an epileptic, which is a unique vulnerability that deftly establishes him as a fighter who refuses to quit while allowing Cassiday to indulge in some tony literary allusions. (Brody frequents a website for those who share his disability and uses the name Myshkin from Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot.) As a scene-setter, Cassiday effectively grabs readers (“Three nuns packing guns under their black habits riding in a silver Range Rover SUV drove up to a small Catholic church” is the gripping book’s opener). The dialogue, though, is a bit hit and miss in this fast-paced tale.

A bracing page-turner with an unconventional hero.

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 364

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: April 23, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

THE SANATORIUM

A hotel built on the grounds of a sanatorium has more dead bodies than paying guests.

A police detective on sabbatical after flubbing a case, Elin Warner travels with her boyfriend, Will, to Le Sommet, a remote, glass-walled, five-star hotel in the Swiss Alps, at the invitation of her estranged brother, Isaac. Isaac is throwing a party to celebrate his engagement to Laure, assistant manager at the hotel, which has been the focus of local controversy due to its shadowy history. Elin's creepy feelings about the trip are quickly confirmed as a storm cuts off access to the mountain, a receptionist is kidnapped, a dead body is found in the snow, and Laure disappears. As overloaded, grisly, and ultimately silly as Pearse's locked-room debut may be, the biggest mystery is how Elin ever made it out of the police academy. As she slowly reasons her way through the unfolding situation, her deductions of even the most obvious points appear in italics—"That means Laure has another phone." "This…it isn't an accident. She's been killed. This is murder"—as do what seem to be the protagonist’s questions to herself about how to move things along. "So where could they have gone?" "So what are my next steps going to be?" "She examines the glass balustrade in front of her. Can I get over it?" What Elin can't get over is a tragedy in her childhood for which she holds her brother responsible; it comes up every few pages until being resolved with a not-too-believable twist that may or may not be retwisted in a mystifying epilogue. Fortunately for Elin, she does have a few insider tricks up her sleeve. "She knows that there is an app called Find My iPhone...it would show the last location where it had a signal." Wait. Why are you laughing? This is a thriller!

Oh, dear.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-59-329667-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: yesterday

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not for the squeamish but a jolt for thriller junkies.

RELENTLESS

The 10th installment in the Gray Man series begins with a dent in the hero’s armor and revs up with nonstop action.

Court Gentry, aka the Gray Man, is recovering from a stab wound, and he really needs to get some rest. He’s tired and badly weakened, not yet fit for operational duty, but the CIA’s off-the-books contract killer is “wholly unaccustomed to free time.” Soon he’s in Caracas, trying to spring his comrade in arms Zack Hightower from a Venezuelan prison. Then he’s off to Germany to deal with a possible coordinated attack on Americans in Berlin. Gentry, whose CIA code name is Violator, is that rare killer with a heart, so he takes only “righteous and worthy” assignments and does them right. His CIA boss congratulates him on one assassination, saying “You put a warhead on his forehead.” Gentry’s in love with Zoya Zakharova, a field operative also working for the CIA, but gunning down bad guys keeps both too busy for a meaningful relationship. Meanwhile, a sultan in the United Arab Emirates can hardly wait for his father to die of cancer, and an Iranian Quds sleeper agent plots mayhem in Berlin. Evildoers abound in this bloody thriller, including Americans. But the star of the scum is Maksim Akulov, who works for the Russian Mafia and whose target is Zakharova. Think of Akulov as the Gray Man without the moral compass. The title aptly fits the plot, as the hero scarcely takes a breather. There’s enough bloodshed to pour into two thrillers, and author Greaney doesn’t spare the good guys. Gentry’s body is “racked with pain and exhaustion” much of the time, but he is relentless. And Zack gets more than scratched while he thinks that “fighting a robot attack would be one badass way to go.”

Not for the squeamish but a jolt for thriller junkies.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-09895-0

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more