A topical adventure that will please fans of military and technological intrigue.


A taught tech-thriller that chronicles the romantic bonding of two heroes and their struggle to expose a rogue U.S. Army Special Forces unit.

At the center of this pleasingly complicated Clancy-esque yarn—though one skeptical of the military industrial complex—is the shadowy School of the Americas. This institution of higher learning—renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation in 2001—was for the training of Latin American intelligence, military and police forces, run quietly by the U.S. Department of Defense until the stories of its alumni’s post-graduate genocide came to light in the late ’90s. In this ingenious little novel, the school is also a place where special operations forces are trained in highly advanced, almost virtual, sessions; if caught during an exercise in escape, cadets are taken to an ersatz prison where the beatings are real. It’s a fascinating setting, but, blessedly, this book has as much heart and head as guts and glory. Sandra Tellan, the widow of a former commander of a special unit called Hazmat, receives a rude awakening when her computer spouts out strange code. She informs the military of the incident, and from there, the story does not let up. Sandra is being watched, and the Hazmat team is on a seemingly warrantless, capricious killing spree through the Chicago area. She turns to college professor Charlie Hart—the chemistry between the two is authentic and immediate—whose work on urban planning has become a kind of guide map for the marauding killers. However, Sandra and Charlie have the Necros Tracker, a program written by her husband that allows them to track the murders using data from law enforcement agencies. How exactly this all fits together is only part of the novel’s fun, and the denouement does not disappoint. Harris’ prose is lively and unpretentious, yet generous enough to create spaces for the imagination without eschewing the pleasurable detail and emotions in the interest of racing to the next page. The literate descriptions of scenery and atmosphere and the knowledgeable weaving of historic fact with clever, relevant fiction make the novel’s romantic and relevant conclusion well worth the journey.

A topical adventure that will please fans of military and technological intrigue.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1449056698

Page Count: 220

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2010

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Assembly-line legal thriller: flat characters, lame scene-setting, and short but somehow interminable action: a lifeless...


Two defrocked Secret Service Agents investigate the assassination of one presidential candidate and the kidnapping of another.

Baldacci (The Christmas Train, 2002, etc.) sets out with two plot strands. The first begins when something distracts Secret Service Agent Sean King and during that “split second,” presidential candidate Clyde Ritter is shot dead. King takes out the killer, but that’s not enough to save his reputation with the Secret Service. He retires and goes on to do often tedious but nonetheless always lucrative work (much like a legal thriller such as this) at a law practice. Plot two begins eight years later when another Secret Service Agent, Michelle Maxwell, lets presidential candidate John Bruno out of her sight for a few minutes at a wake for one of his close associates. He goes missing. Now Maxwell, too, gets in dutch with the SS. Though separated by time, the cases are similar and leave several questions unanswered. What distracted King at the rally? Bruno had claimed his friend’s widow called him to the funeral home. The widow (one of the few characters here to have any life) says she never called Bruno. Who set him up? Who did a chambermaid at Ritter’s hotel blackmail? And who is the man in the Buick shadowing King’s and Maxwell’s every move? King is a handsome, rich divorce, Maxwell an attractive marathon runner. Will they join forces and find each other kind of, well, appealing? But of course. The two former agents traverse the countryside, spinning endless hypotheses before the onset, at last, of a jerrybuilt conclusion that begs credibility and offers few surprises.

Assembly-line legal thriller: flat characters, lame scene-setting, and short but somehow interminable action: a lifeless concoction.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2003

ISBN: 0-446-53089-1

Page Count: 406

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2003

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