A gripping series launch with well-drawn characters.

INSIDE PASSAGE

From the Corey Logan Thrillers series , Vol. 1

In Weissbourd’s thriller, a woman recently released from prison dreams of regaining custody of her estranged son, but an evil man is determined to continue her “waking nightmare.”

“Trouble follows you,” 15-year-old Billy Logan tells his mother, Corey, and he doesn’t know the half of it. She spent 22 months in prison after being framed by Nick Season, who killed her customs-agent husband and planted drugs on her boat. Now he’s a candidate for attorney general and only Corey knows about the charismatic Nick’s criminal past, although she has no hard evidence to prove it: “He can’t stand that I know what he did, what he really is,” she explains to her son. First, he hired professional killers to go after her in prison; now, he threatens to harm Billy if Corey doesn’t get them both out of the country. She vows, “I don’t know how. But I’m going to fix it,” and she finds an unlikely and unexpected ally in Abe Stein, a doctor from whom she needs a positive evaluation to get her son out of foster care. Worlds collide when Season hires Abe’s well-connected mother to manage his campaign. This is the first installment in a thriller trilogy, and Weissbourd, a former producer of feature films such as Ghost Story (1981), has etched a filmworthy narrative that’s colored by vivid descriptions (“the sky was dishwater white”) and populated by fully fleshed-out characters. Corey is indefatigable and consistently clever, and Nick is truly terrifying; the latter’s belt-buckle ice pick is as scene-stealing as the deadly shoe blade in the 1963 James Bond movie From Russia With Love. When he unleashes his full fury, readers may wonder if anyone will make it to the second book in the series alive.

A gripping series launch with well-drawn characters.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73343-829-2

Page Count: 290

Publisher: Blue City Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2020

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Murder most foul and mayhem most entertaining. Another worthy page-turner from a protean master.

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BILLY SUMMERS

The ever prolific King moves from his trademark horror into the realm of the hard-boiled noir thriller.

“He’s not a normal person. He’s a hired assassin, and if he doesn’t think like who and what he is, he’ll never get clear.” So writes King of his title character, whom the Las Vegas mob has brought in to rub out another hired gun who’s been caught and is likely to talk. Billy, who goes by several names, is a complex man, a Marine veteran of the Iraq War who’s seen friends blown to pieces; he’s perhaps numbed by PTSD, but he’s goal-oriented. He’s also a reader—Zola’s novel Thérèse Raquin figures as a MacGuffin—which sets his employer’s wheels spinning: If a reader, then why not have him pretend he’s a writer while he’s waiting for the perfect moment to make his hit? It wouldn’t be the first writer, real or imagined, King has pressed into service, and if Billy is no Jack Torrance, there’s a lovely, subtle hint of the Overlook Hotel and its spectral occupants at the end of the yarn. It’s no spoiler to say that whereas Billy carries out the hit with grim precision, things go squirrelly, complicated by his rescue of a young woman—Alice—after she’s been roofied and raped. Billy’s revenge on her behalf is less than sweet. As a memoir grows in his laptop, Billy becomes more confident as a writer: “He doesn’t know what anyone else might think, but Billy thinks it’s good,” King writes of one day’s output. “And good that it’s awful, because awful is sometimes the truth. He guesses he really is a writer now, because that’s a writer’s thought.” Billy’s art becomes life as Alice begins to take an increasingly important part in it, crisscrossing the country with him to carry out a final hit on an errant bad guy: “He flopped back on the sofa, kicked once, and fell on the floor. His days of raping children and murdering sons and God knew what else were over.” That story within a story has a nice twist, and Billy’s battered copy of Zola’s book plays a part, too.

Murder most foul and mayhem most entertaining. Another worthy page-turner from a protean master.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982173-61-6

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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Another adventure-packed treat for fans of the Ryan family.

TOM CLANCY CHAIN OF COMMAND

A kidnapping prompts President Jack Ryan to temporarily step aside.

Criminals force “some poor schmuck” to fly his Cessna toward the White House and the Capitol, and a pair of F-16s prepare to shoot him down. So begins a convoluted plot to stop President Ryan from pushing through a Pharma Independence bill vehemently opposed by Indian foreign minister Varma. (Varma vs. Pharma—hmm.) Anyway, the bad guys kidnap first lady Cathy Ryan, and what’s a Clancy thriller without fighting and skulduggery in far-flung reaches of the world, with do-good American doctors who stand to be executed as no-good spies in a part of Afghanistan so remote that even the Taliban doesn’t go there? As fans will remember, Cathy, a world-class ophthalmic surgeon, is the love of the president’s life. Knowing his own deep emotional involvement, he sees the need to temporarily cede constitutional power to the newly minted Vice President Dehart. (VP Hargrave has suddenly died.) Yes, the first lady might not survive—wherever she is—but the president must put country above all else. The plot even includes a possibly rogue Chinese cross-border incursion onto the Roof of the World, a testy top-level chat with China’s president, and an encounter with the Argentine border patrol. And with Aussies and Brits who’ve fought in Africa and who may kill Cathy, the story is like No Continent Left Behind. So yeah, the plot sort of holds together, but wouldn’t stopping the drug bill have been lots easier using the tried-and-true method of buying off a few U.S. senators? As a White House official muses, there’s “no easy explanation for human stupidity—or violence.” In other words, this is vintage Clancy, may he rest in peace, with plenty of fast-paced excitement in locales galore.

Another adventure-packed treat for fans of the Ryan family.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18816-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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