A so-so outing, although Coulter’s fans will likely enjoy the new characters.



Coulter (KnockOut, 2009, etc.) delivers the 14th novel in her long-running series of thrillers featuring FBI agents Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock, this time introducing two new major characters.

Helmut Blauvelt, a German national, is found murdered on federal land in Connecticut, his fingertips cut off and his face disfigured. It turns out he’s a troubleshooter for the nearby pharmaceutical company Schiffer Hartwin. On the night of the murder, private investigator Erin Pulaski was stealing documents from the Schiffer Hartwin CEO’s own computer, to help prove that the company had been causing an artificial scarcity of an in-demand cancer medication. She didn’t kill Blauvelt, but wants to know who did. And, coincidentally, Pulaski is also the ballet teacher for the daughter of hardworking, widowed FBI agent Bowie Richards, who’s investigating the Blauvelt murder with Coulter regulars Savich and Sherlock. The primary mystery’s drug-company angle seems to be an attempt to tackle a health-care issue for topicality’s sake—giving characters multiple opportunities to talk about pharma wrongdoing. Overall, however, despite attempts to liven things up—including a scene involving an exploding SUV—it’s a fairly standard procedural, with predictable and sometimes rather lifeless dialogue. A second, supernaturally tinged mystery involves a U.S. senator apparently being visited by the ghost of his dead wife, while at the same time seeming to be targeted by assassins—eventually leading to the vice president of the United States ending up in the hospital. Unfortunately, this mystery is shoehorned awkwardly into the action, and at times feels as if it had drifted in from an altogether different novel. That said, the two new characters, Pulaski and Richards, are fine additions, and the sections that focus on them feel the most authentic and are the most entertaining.

A so-so outing, although Coulter’s fans will likely enjoy the new characters.

Pub Date: June 15, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-399-15653-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Great storytelling about the pursuit of extrajudicial justice.


Ninth in the author’s Gray Man series (Mission Critical, 2019, etc.) in which “the most elite assassin in the world” has his hands full.

Ex–CIA Agent Courtland Gentry (the Gray Man) has Serbian war criminal Ratko Babic in his gun sight, but when he decides instead to kill the old beast face to face, he uncovers a massive sex-slavery ring. “I don’t get off on this,” the Gray Man lies to the reader as he stabs a sentry. “I only kill bad people.” Of course he does. If there weren’t an endless supply of them to slay, he’d have little reason to live. Now, countless young Eastern European women are being lured into sexual slavery and fed into an international pipeline, sold worldwide through “the Consortium.” Bad guys refer to their captives as products, not people. They are “merchandise,” but their plight haunts the Gray Man, so of course he is going to rescue as many women as he can. The road to their salvation will be paved with the dead as he enlists a team of fighters to strike the enemy, which includes a South African dude who is giddy for the chance to meet and kill the Gray Man. Meanwhile, Europol analyst Talyssa Corbu meets the hero while on a personal mission to rescue her sister. “You don’t seem like a psychopath,” she tells him. Indeed, though he could play one on TV. Corbu and her sister are tough and likable characters while the director of the Consortium leads a double life as family man and flesh merchant. Human trafficking is an enormous real-life problem, so it’s satisfying to witness our larger-than-life protagonist put his combat skills to good use. There will be a sequel, of course. As a friend tells the wounded Gentry at the end, he’ll be off killing bozos again before he knows it.

Great storytelling about the pursuit of extrajudicial justice.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09891-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet