Another super Cussler fun read fit for a lazy weekend.

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HAVANA STORM

In a quest connecting Aztecs, the Spanish-American War and boatloads of modern villains, Cussler pater et filius (Poseidon’s Arrow, 2012, etc.) chronicle another adventure of the venerable Dirk Pitt, chief of the National Underwater and Marine Agency. 

Cussler addicts crave action, and the authors deal it out liberally. In the first 200 pages, there’s a flashback to the 1898 sinking of the Maine in Havana Harbor; innocent Jamaican fishermen are vaporized; one of Castro’s ministers is assassinated; three oil workers are trapped in a deep-water diving bell; an oil exploration ship is sunk; and Dirk and Summer, children of Dirk the elder, confront danger with derring-do in Mexico as they seek clues to an ancient Aztec codex. Cussler’s regulars are on hand, including Al Giordino, Dirk’s number two, with “the burly build of a professional wrestler combined with the toughness of an elder crocodile.” Chief villains are two, both greedy Cuban commies. Gen. Alberto Gutier has political ambitions, and he’s charged ruthless Juan Díaz with financing those ambitions via rogue deep-sea mining. Díaz dupes the CEO of a Canadian mining company, an enlightened, environmentally conscious fellow who’s a bad judge of business partners, into providing the high-tech equipment. However, Díaz’s explorations vent mercury into pristine tropical waters, and that attracts NUMA’s attention. Descriptive flourishes, such as “he raised him off the floor and ground his teeth in the man’s face,” sometimes clank, and there’s a plot hole or two as ships sail around the Caribbean setting off explosions that register as seismic events. The other half of the Aztec codex—road map to riches—is found after a bit of crafty research, requiring more undersea work, descriptions of which are Cussler’s forte. Few read Cussler for literary nuance and protagonists steeped in irony, but Pitt and company are the stuff of heroic dreams: beautiful and high-minded and generous rich folks with cutting-edge technology and ample time to save the world. 

Another super Cussler fun read fit for a lazy weekend.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-17292-2

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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These characters are so beloved that readers may not mind when a few twists veer dangerously close to the absurd.

WHEN YOU SEE ME

Three Gardner fan favorites—FBI agent Kimberly Quincy, Sgt. D.D. Warren of the Boston Police, and serial-killer–survivor–turned-vigilante Flora Dane—team up to untangle a series of murders, and lots of small-town secrets, in the Georgia hills.

On a hike in the hills outside the quaint tourist town of Niche, Georgia, a couple finds the partial skeletal remains of Lilah Abenito, who went missing 15 years ago. Lilah was thought to be one of the first victims connected to Jacob Ness, who kidnapped Flora eight years ago when she was a Boston college student and held her captive, mostly in a coffin-sized box, for 472 days. The chance to link the deceased Ness to additional crimes is impossible to pass up, and FBI agent Kimberly Quincy invites D.D., Flora (who is a confidential informant for D.D.), and computer analyst Keith Edgar, Flora's friend/love interest, to be part of her task force. A search through the hills turns up a mass grave full of more skeletal remains. While D.D. is updating the mayor, Howard Counsel, and his wife, Martha, who own the charming Mountain Laurel B&B, she becomes interested in their timid, fearful maid, a young Hispanic woman who's brain damaged and unable to speak following a car accident when she was a child. When Martha suddenly hangs herself (or so it seems), D.D. realizes something very odd is going on at ye olde B&B. Gardner juggles multiple narratives, including that of the Counsels’ nameless maid, with ease. However, the involvement of two civilians in a major federal task force is initially hard to swallow, as are a few supernatural elements Gardner (Look for Me, 2018, etc.) shoehorns in. But Flora’s tentative romance with Keith and her realization that she might finally be thriving, not just surviving, are bright spots, as is Gardner’s evolving and sensitive exploration of trauma and its insidious, lasting effects.

These characters are so beloved that readers may not mind when a few twists veer dangerously close to the absurd.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4500-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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