A novel with some gems of insight, although its larger setup veers off-target.

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GOLIATH TREMBLED

CONFRONTING THE CABAL

Murphy (Dance for a Diamond, 2011, etc.) offers a novel about international paranoia and a man who may be the last hope for humanity.

Nic Moncrieffe is an English-born writer living in New Mexico. He may seem harmless enough, with his hip friends in Santa Fe and his love of sailing, but the U.S. government is watching him very closely. Nic believes that the world is headed toward a positive raising of consciousness known as “the Shift,” caused, in part, by the effects of a jet-fuel additive called Prist. He also believes, among other things, that the planet is moving toward a single government. His views have garnered interest from government higher-ups, but the people that they send to spy on him wind up coming over to his side. One Russian émigré working for the United States admits rather plainly, “The problem for me, Nic, is that I am under orders and I would prefer to be your friend.” A woman from Poland sent to get information from Nic winds up falling in love with him. Of course, not everyone in the government is so easily swayed, and, come hell or high water, they’re determined to find out the secrets that Nic knows and how he knows them. The book explores a number of New Age concepts (A Course In Miracles by Helen Shucman is mentioned frequently) and conspiracy theories (with the dispersal of Prist just the tip of the iceberg). Even the most skeptical reader has likely heard of “chemtrails,” but mentions of oft-neglected oddities, such as German teenager Matthias Rust’s historic illegal landing of a plane in Moscow’s Red Square in 1987, give the story loads of conspiratorial substance. What’s perplexing about the plot, though, is the portrayal of powerful figures. How is the U.S. government in this novel clever enough to help fabricate the 9/11 attacks but not manage to ensnare a middle-aged writer living openly in the Southwest? And although the book contains its share of thrilling scenes, such as a bizarre yet well-paced dance of fighter jets, Nic’s mastery of his world and his opponents’ utter buffoonery make for a distractingly lopsided battle.

A novel with some gems of insight, although its larger setup veers off-target.

Pub Date: March 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5302-6879-5

Page Count: 342

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 25, 2017

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Another success for the publishing phenom.

UNDER CURRENTS

An abused boy fights back, escapes, then returns as an attorney to his beloved hometown, but just as he’s falling in love with a transplanted landscaper, a series of attacks from shadowy enemies jeopardizes their happiness.

“From the outside, the house in Lakeview Terrace looked perfect.” Which of course means that it wasn't. We're introduced to the horrifying Dr. Graham Bigelow, who beats his wife and, increasingly as the boy gets older, his son, Zane. On the night of Zane’s prom, a particularly savage attack puts him and his sister in the hospital, and his father blames Zane, landing him in jail. Then his sister stands up for him, enlisting the aid of their aunt, and everything changes, mainly due to Zane’s secret diaries. Nearly 20 years later, Zane leaves a successful career as a lawyer to return to Lakeview, where his aunt and sister live with their families, deciding to hang a shingle as a small-town lawyer. Then he meets Darby McCray, the landscaper who’s recently relocated and taken the town by storm, starting with the transformation of his family’s rental bungalows. The two are instantly intrigued by each other, but they move slowly into a relationship neither is looking for. Darby has a violent past of her own, so she is more than willing to take on the risk of antagonizing a boorish local family when she and Zane help an abused wife. Suddenly Zane and Darby face one attack after another, and even as they grow ever closer under the pressure, the dangers become more insidious. Roberts’ latest title feels a little long and the story is slightly cumbersome, but her greatest strength is in making the reader feel connected to her characters, so “unnecessary details” can also charm and engage.

Another success for the publishing phenom.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20709-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

THE DECEPTION

A successful businesswoman hires a smooth-talking bounty hunter to find a lead on her sister’s murder.

Kate Gallagher was the only one available to identify her younger sister Chrissy’s body after she was found dead, having run away from home two years earlier. Since Chrissy succumbed to drugs and turned to sex work to survive, her murder isn't taken seriously by the local homicide department. Kate is filled with grief and regret at not having been there for her sister, and she’s determined to find her killer as a kind of penance. Jason Maddox is the charming man Kate almost hooked up with at a local bar. He also happens to be on the payroll of the most successful investigation company in Dallas. He’s all too eager to help Kate out and spend more time getting to know the blonde he danced with at the Sagebrush Saloon. At first, Kate and Jason vow to keep things professional until the case is solved; there’s obvious attraction that they’re willing to pursue at a later date. But the increasing sense of danger mixed with Kate and Jason’s close proximity proves to be too heady of a combination. The tension never lets up as the pair visit seedy bars and interrogate unsavory characters. With a steamy romance and undeniably hot chemistry, the main characters are well matched. They’re both driven, slightly stubborn, and enjoy the adrenaline rush of catching criminals. Martin (The Conspiracy, 2019, etc.) doesn’t skimp on graphic, violent details as Chrissy’s murder leads her couple to something much bigger: human trafficking. Though not for the faint of heart given its weighty material, this is an un-put-down-able page-turner that’s sure to satisfy fans of romance and thrillers alike.

A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-335-00769-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin HQN

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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