Clickbait for readers searching for a taut, timely thriller.

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KILLING INFLUENCE

From the Earl Town series , Vol. 2

Teenage social media influencers live large—until two of them stop living at all—in Brown’s second thriller about South Boston private eye Earl Town.

Mafia don Giacomo “Momo” Ragazzi, bolstered by henchmen Fat Tommy and Skinny Mikey, asks Town to investigate the seemingly unrelated tragedies that befell two girls hired by Boom Productions as influencers. Boom’s young online trendsetters got rich fast by promoting products. But two girls are dead, one allegedly part of a murder-suicide, the other found with fentanyl in her system. Then someone torches the car of Momo’s granddaughter, Mona Lisa, one of Boom’s biggest stars, with her in it. Handily, Earl was nearby to help save her. Working parallel to Earl on Boom cases is the sexy but “hard-ass” city cop Pamela Prentiss. But his wandering eye also spies Boom’s head of talent, Divya Singh, who has a tiger tattoo wrapped around her left calf and ankle. Dateable and nearly jailbaitable women aside, the case gets more twisted as Earl discovers that more than influencing goes on with the Boom crowd—including blackmail, kidnapping, and a near-death encounter with a propeller. Brown describes the fast-lane world of social influencing well; Mona Lisa is driven, professional, and sexy but still little more than a kid. The tension of finding a murderer while under mob-boss pressure, plus the drama of rich and fashionable young women dating rock stars, plays out well, but character names like Fat Tommy and even Mona Lisa could be less obvious. And Brown deftly weaves in backstory supplied in Book 1 of the series, Indian Summer (2019). Earl’s working-class background is now a whiter shade of blue-collar as he notes a woman’s watch “was a porcelain number from Chanel.” Chanel offers a ceramic watch, not a fine porcelain one, but Earl will probably figure that out by Book 3.

Clickbait for readers searching for a taut, timely thriller.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73374-983-1

Page Count: 267

Publisher: C. James Brown Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2020

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

JOURNEY OF THE PHARAOHS

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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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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