MONTAGNARD

From the The JD Cordell Action Series series , Vol. 1

A tightly focused and exciting second installment of a thriller series.

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A just-retired Navy SEAL tries to save his Vietnamese mother from a drug lord in this thriller sequel.

It’s been over 40 years since Mai Cordell has seen her adopted brother, Dish. She left her home country of Vietnam with a United States soldier named Curtis, and the two married and started a family in America. She finally returns to Vietnam to reunite with Dish, but asking locals about her brother catches the attention of Trần Nam Tin. He’s a drug smuggler who seems intent on controlling operations in the three-nation region (including Laos and Cambodia). Dish, meanwhile, is a gun smuggler who helps arm anti-communist rebels. After he and his comrades attack some of the drug lord’s men, Dish sends a warning to Trần that he “is going to come for him.” Consequently, Trần abducts Mai to bait Dish. When Mai’s son, JD, learns what has happened, he, his Navy SEAL pals, and his trained Belgian Malinois, Ajax, head to Thailand with a plan to sneak into Vietnam. At the same time, Dish searches for his sister; once he teams up with his nephew, they’ll hopefully be able to find Mai and rescue her. Like the series’ first installment, Gilbert’s enjoyable sequel offers some rousing subplots, including—prior to JD’s retirement—SEAL Team 5’s attempts to rescue Dr. Ellen Chang, whom terrorists kidnapped for ransom in Niger. But this novel concentrates on fewer characters, such as the returning players Curtis, Mai, and Ajax. There’s also less action, though there are several opportunities for JD to demonstrate the Vietnamese martial art Nguyen-Ryu, which Mai and Curtis taught him. Still, the narrative gradually builds to a tense latter half, with Mai as Trần’s hostage and Dish in his crosshairs. JD’s story also evolves as the well-established hero suffers more than one loss.

A tightly focused and exciting second installment of a thriller series. (acknowledgements, author bio)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73460-232-6

Page Count: 302

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Aug. 24, 2020

THE ATLAS MANEUVER

Speculators who haven’t been put off by bitcoin’s recent crash will enjoy this walk—well, run—on the wild side.

Cotton Malone, who just can’t stay retired from international intrigue, joins the mad dance of competitors for a fortune in bitcoin.

So many people have forgotten about the horde of gold the retreating Japanese hid on Luzon Island in the Philippines that it’s not at all clear who has legal title to it. That’s perfect for Robert Citrone, the retired CIA overseer of the Black Eagle Trust, which has used the gold to fund covert operations around the world. Just as Derrick Koger, the European station chief for the CIA, is pulling Malone away from his Copenhagen bookstore to help him investigate possible misdeeds swirling around Luxembourg’s Bank of St. George and its ruthless chief operating officer, Catherine Gledhill, other interested parties turn up in often surprising connections. Freelance assassin Kyra Lhota executes Armenian oligarch Samvel Yerevan and moves on to her next target. Malone’s sometime lover Cassiopeia Vitt is snatched by high-ranking Japanese security chief Aiko Ejima. His former lover Suzy Baldwin resurfaces as Kelly Austin, BSG’s director of special technology, who’s concealing secrets from Malone and the rest of the world. They’re all on the trail of a fabulous cache of bitcoin that in the absence of any legal records of ownership will belong, like the Luzon gold, to anyone who can track it down and grab it. The grandly scaled complications that follow feature countless broken alliances and the deaths of a fearsome number of nonfranchise characters. An extended author’s note explains what’s historically accurate (quite a bit, as it turns out) and what’s fabricated (quite a bit more).

Speculators who haven’t been put off by bitcoin’s recent crash will enjoy this walk—well, run—on the wild side.

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2024

ISBN: 9781538721032

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

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THE FURY

More style than substance.

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Michaelides takes a literary turn in his latest novel, employing an unreliable narrator, the structure of classical drama, and a self-conscious eye to dismantling the locked-room mystery.

The novel starts off with a murder, and with seven people trapped on an isolated Greek island lashed by a "wild, unpredictable Greek wind." The narrator, soon established as Elliot Chase, then zooms out to address the reader directly, introducing the players—most importantly movie star Lana Farrar. We meet her husband, Jason Miller, her son, Leo, and her friend Kate Crosby, a theater actress. We learn about her rise to fame and her older first husband, Otto Krantz, a Hollywood producer. We learn about Kate’s possibly stalling career and Leo’s plan to apply to acting schools against his mother’s wishes. We learn about Jason’s obsession with guns. And in fragments and shards, we learn about Elliot: his painful childhood; his May–September relationship with an older female writer, now dead; his passion for the theater, where he learned “to change everything about [himself]” to fit in. Though he isn't present in every scene, he conveys each piece of the story leading up to the murder as if he were an omniscient narrator, capable of accessing every character's interior perspective. When he gets to the climax, there is, indeed, a shooting. There is, indeed, a motive. And there is, of course, a twist. The atmosphere of the novel, set mostly on this wild Greek island, echoes strongly the classical tragedies of Greece. The characters are types. The emotions are operatic. And the tragedy, of course, leads us to question the idea of fate. Michaelides seems also to be dipping into the world of Edgar Allan Poe, offering an unreliable narrator who feels more like a literary exercise. As an exploration of genre, it’s really quite fascinating. As a thriller, it’s not particularly surprising.

More style than substance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2024

ISBN: 9781250758989

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023

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