The solid plot is nearly outshone by its sterling leads, the father–daughter duo that refuses to compromise.

THE MAN WHO RODE THE TIGER

In Sailor’s thriller, a father seeks to liberate his daughter after she’s accused and tried for capital crimes in China.

Retired police captain David Kettering learns that his daughter, Sarah, a correspondent for Global News Network, has been charged with espionage in the assassination attempt on the general secretary in Beijing. That information is a mere courtesy: The United States is denying any association with Sarah, whom China believes to be an American agent. Members of a “democracy club” are also arrested, but the conspiracy runs even deeper—China’s president is poisoned, an attempt on his life that he believes was instigated by the general secretary. David, Sarah and others, including GNN comrades, are bugged and shadowed by agents of the Ministry of State Security, while David learns just how far he’ll go to save his daughter. Sailor (The Second Son, 1979) dives right into the story, as David travels from the States to Beijing in little narrative time. There’s little attempt to establish the relationship between father and daughter before the plot begins; the imprisoned Sarah is introduced in shackles. But their solid connection is well developed through their brief encounters and David’s unfaltering belief in her innocence—“My daughter is not now, nor has she ever been, a spy,” he boldly proclaims in court. Sailor’s writing style is unassuming, as he spends less time painting the scenery than relaying information, which comes in streams but suppresses enough details to maintain a flow of curiosity. Hoping for help in getting his daughter back to America, David spends a large portion of the novel tracking down the ambassador in the U.S., although he typically finds himself immersed in kinetic gunfights. Sarah, despite her mistreatment in prison, proves just as resolute and sturdy a character as her father. The story is further enriched by a clear struggle between communism and democracy (a political demonstration has a bloody conclusion), but Sarah’s trial is the most rousing part, particularly when watching her lawyer jump hurdles in the courtroom.

The solid plot is nearly outshone by its sterling leads, the father–daughter duo that refuses to compromise.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Charles Sailor

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2012

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE

The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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