A complex, multilayered thriller that sometimes overly depends on coincidence.


An ex-cop discovers a drug cartel’s huge money stash—but the group will do anything to get it back.

Jack Williams doesn’t feel like a lucky man as this thriller opens. He’s an experienced former Marine sniper, MP, and detective with the Denver Police Department, but now drives trucks for a living. Many would call Jack a hero for shooting a pedophile in the head to prevent him from assaulting a terrified 8-year-old boy, but an “ambitious DA” tried to make an example of the cop. Though Jack didn’t serve jail time and was convicted on lesser charges, he was dismissed from the force and then his wife divorced him, gaining custody of their two daughters and moving to California. But Jack’s luck seems to turn when he’s driving on a steep, winding Colorado mountain pass at 3 a.m. The cargo van ahead misses a curve, hurtling over the side; acting as a good Samaritan, Jack climbs down and discovers two passengers, dead or dying. Plastic-wrapped stacks of $100 bills and other clues tell Jack that the van was transporting Mexican cartel money, probably for laundering. Believing he’s left no evidence behind, he works out a careful plan to safely retrieve, store, and launder $120 million with the help of his lawyer, Henry Berman, totally loyal because it was his son Jack saved from the pedophile. In the Caribbean, whose offshore banks will discreetly take large cash deposits, Jack will start a cover business—perhaps in private charter security. He’s set to make a better life for himself and his daughters—except his luck again turns bad. The cartel wants its money back and a ruthless killer is soon on Jack’s trail. Meanwhile, Ray Cruz, a DEA undercover investigator, becomes embedded with the cartel bigwig whose cash was in the van, and a Caribbean figure plays a double game. When Jack’s family is put in danger, he must use all his skills to tip the balance of luck again in his favor. Thomas (The Kingdom Shall Fall, 2017, etc.) offers a great hook in this well-plotted tale—the windfall that might be too hot to handle. The details of getting, storing, and laundering the money are compelling, and the author thinks through what it would take. Dialogue and police/military elements are also well handled, with a strong air of authenticity. For example, when Jack must undertake a military-style mission, a friend explains the weaponry: “With the fucking kick and impact expansion of the hot 7.62 NATO 175-grain hollow-point round this bitch fires, close is all you’ll need.” The pace is slowed down somewhat by attention to inessential facets or logistics, as in this passage featuring Felix Brillo, a cartel member, and Ray: “After getting Felix situated in the rear seat with his seat belt on, the pilot stored their bags in a small compartment and told Ray to join him in the front.” And at times, the plot relies too much on events extremely convenient to Jack or on coincidence (including one involving a financial matter).

A complex, multilayered thriller that sometimes overly depends on coincidence.

Pub Date: April 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9965607-3-3

Page Count: 385

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2019

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The years pass by at a fast and steamy clip in Blume’s latest adult novel (Wifey, not reviewed; Smart Women, 1984) as two friends find loyalties and affections tested as they grow into young women. In sixth grade, when Victoria Weaver is asked by new girl Caitlin Somers to spend the summer with her on Martha’s Vineyard, her life changes forever. Victoria, or more commonly Vix, lives in a small house; her brother has muscular dystrophy; her mother is unhappy, and money is scarce. Caitlin, on the other hand, lives part of the year with her wealthy mother Phoebe, who’s just moved to Albuquerque, and summers with her father Lamb, equally affluent, on the Vineyard. The story of how this casual invitation turns the two girls into what they call "Summer sisters" is prefaced with a prologue in which Vix is asked by Caitlin to be her matron of honor. The years in between are related in brief segments by numerous characters, but mostly by Vix. Caitlin, determined never to be ordinary, is always testing the limits, and in adolescence falls hard for Von, an older construction worker, while Vix falls for his friend Bru. Blume knows the way kids and teens speak, but her two female leads are less credible as they reach adulthood. After high school, Caitlin travels the world and can’t understand why Vix, by now at Harvard on a scholarship and determined to have a better life than her mother has had, won’t drop out and join her. Though the wedding briefly revives Vix’s old feelings for Bru, whom Caitlin is marrying, Vix is soon in love with Gus, another old summer friend, and a more compatible match. But Caitlin, whose own demons have been hinted at, will not be so lucky. The dark and light sides of friendship breathlessly explored in a novel best saved for summer beachside reading.

Pub Date: May 8, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32405-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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