This first installment chronicling the adventures of Maj. Jacob Kelly turns out to be an undisputed success.

Falcon Down

From the Falcon Series series , Vol. 1

An Air Force pilot with a few skills not in his official dossier finds himself on the run in a hostile nation in the first thriller of this trilogy.

It’s 1986, and Maj. Jacob “Falcon” Kelly is at the top of his game. A capable fighter jock, Kelly gets recruited into a top-secret program that requires more than just flight abilities. These proficiencies, as well as the fluency in Russian he kept secret from the Air Force to avoid intelligence postings, come in handy when he is shot down over the Bering Strait and whisked off to a debriefing center deep inside the Soviet Union for interrogation and eventual liquidation. He befriends a fellow Russian-speaking prisoner named Oswald Simmons (“everyone just calls me Oz”), a scientist, and they use Morse code to secretly communicate. Before long, Kelly spots an opportunity to flee. He tells Oz about his escape plan: “Gonna check out and find a different hotel. Don’t care for the amenities here.” Oz eagerly offers the dubious Kelly his assistance (“Need some help with your luggage? Take me with you! I can be handy in a scrap”). Soon all of Kelly’s talents and knowledge that the Soviets didn’t know about get used against them, as the body count spirals upward and he comes ever closer to achieving his goal. Cobb (Falcon Strike, 2014, etc.) has clearly done his research on multiple counts and, like Tom Clancy or Dale Brown, masterly intertwines military technology and behavior into a tightly plotted narrative in which every development follows logically and smoothly from what came before. This deft touch extends to the characters: Kelly, while remaining supremely adept, makes mistakes and gets frustrated in his efforts to run, making him more relatable than a stereotypical Special Forces operative. And the primary antagonists, such as Maj. Gen. Chernikov, are not cartoonishly evil monsters but professional military figures with doubts and misgivings of their own. Occasionally, Cobb slips in a little heavy-handed religious material, but except for one instance where a professor’s conversion story told to Kelly edges into proselytizing, the author manages to keep most of the Christian-themed material relevant to the story and characters.

This first installment chronicling the adventures of Maj. Jacob Kelly turns out to be an undisputed success.

Pub Date: June 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9848875-1-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Doorway Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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