A derivative but well-crafted and engaging bioweapon tale.



A banker investigates his father’s suspicious death and stumbles on a terrorist conspiracy in this debut novel.

David Blum, a 38-year-old senior adviser at Regency Bank, receives devastating news: His father, Solomon, a professor of political science, has just died of a heart attack. David rushes to his hometown, Champaign, Illinois, and receives an alarming note from a stranger, Hans Meier, who claims to have information about the true nature of Solomon’s death. Hans arranges a meeting with David but never shows up. In fact, Hans—a graduate student and an admirer of Solomon—seems to have disappeared. In addition, the student’s home has been searched. David, a former FBI agent, decides to conduct an investigation of his own and finds a cryptic note in Hans’ handwriting that appears to anticipate the intentional unleashing of some kind of epidemic. Generating considerable suspense and enough plausibility for a novelistic version of a big-budget movie, the story details David’s race to thwart a biomedical act of terrorism by an insane agricultural scientist, Otto Feldmann. David tracks down a woman, Kay Westfield, who 20 years earlier inadvertently witnessed Feldmann supervise a bizarre experiment that involved an exploding plane, poison gas, and rapidly dying animals. Jacobs’ plot hurtles along at an agreeably swift pace, never lagging, always delivering a steady stream of easily digestible entertainment. The tale is a very familiar one, even formulaic, and Feldmann, a “consummate soulless scientist—all brain and no heart,” is an unreconstructed type, a kind of barely personified cliché. But the book’s strengths are neither depth nor originality, but rather taut, lucidly described drama and a magnetic leading man. For readers with the proper expectations, this novel provides an enjoyable way to spend a leisurely afternoon.

A derivative but well-crafted and engaging bioweapon tale.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 357

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2020

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An enjoyable read. Berry’s fans won’t be disappointed.


Holy relics, a salt mine, and treachery feature in this 15th entry in the author’s Cotton Malone series (The Malta Exchange, 2019, etc.).

Former lawyer and American intelligence officer Cotton Malone is now a bookseller who goes to Bruges, Belgium, for an antiquarian book fair. He’s hired by a former boss to steal the Holy Lance, one of the seven “weapons of Christ,” or Arma Christi. That is the price of admission to a secret auction, in which various countries will bid on compromising information about Poland’s president, Janusz Czajkowski. The point? Czajkowski is an honorable man who will not allow the U.S. to build a missile system on Polish soil, and the EU– and NATO-hating U.S. President Fox is one of several people who want the Polish leader out of the way at all costs. “If I wanted a conscience, I’d buy one,” Fox says. Readers will have to pay close attention to suss out the meaning of Czajkowski’s Warsaw Protocol because the author hardly hammers it home. But the story is fun regardless, especially with characters like the smart and resourceful Malone and the Polish foreign intelligence officer Sonia Draga, “a fortress, often scaled and assaulted, but never conquered.” The complex plot leads to a magnificent Polish salt mine (a real place) that’s hundreds of meters deep with nine layers, has hundreds of miles of tunnels, brine lakes people can’t sink in, and lots of tourists. Berry builds suspense nicely, allowing readers to anticipate the violence that eventually comes. To a great extent, the novel is a richly detailed homage to Poland, its culture, and its ability to survive so many invasions over the centuries. The connection between Arma Christi and an unwanted American missile system feels a wee bit iffy, but at least the latter won’t be called the Holy Lance.

An enjoyable read. Berry’s fans won’t be disappointed.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-14030-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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A well-researched and fast-paced story that provides all the requisite sparks to keep the pages turning.


A despotic Russian leader builds a technologically advanced space station with the power to decimate American satellites.

Brown (The Moscow Offensive, 2018, etc.), a former U.S. Air Force captain, has written the next chapter in the ongoing saga of fabled American pilots Patrick McLanahan and his son, Brad, who are ever adapting to new advancements in techno-warfare and looming threats to the security of the entire world. It's spring 2021, shortly after the U.S. public voted the incompetent president Stacy Anne Barbeau out of office. The new president, John Dalton Farrell, has “every intention of reversing her earthbound policies of drift, indecision, and isolationism.” Evidently, America, and the rest of the free world, will need a strong leader because Russia—under the rule of coldblooded autocrat Gennadiy Gryzlov—has just created a dangerous new weapon. Modeled after a scrapped American defense initiative from the Reagan years, this “coaxial plasma rail gun,” nicknamed Thunderbolt, could potentially make Russia the world’s unchallenged superpower. With the American space defense slowly revitalizing, this unchecked aggression from Russia must be stopped by Brad, his romantic interest (and former Polish special forces soldier) Maj. Nadia Rozek, and the Iron Wolf Squadron, an elite group of operators entrusted with the job of protecting Eastern European allies. This action-packed techno-thriller is filled with enough complex aerospace and aeronautical jargon to sizzle the senses of those who spend time up in the clouds while leaving some of those down on the tarmac dizzy with details.

A well-researched and fast-paced story that provides all the requisite sparks to keep the pages turning.

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-284301-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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