Resonant characters propel this consistently gripping terrorist tale.

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In this debut thriller, a Navy SEAL tries to uncover a terrorist plot.

Rahman Atta has a deep-seated animosity toward Americans, blaming them for murdering his father and uncle, both Islamic radicals. He’s cooking up a plan that initially entails getting a president in his pocket. With a United States election coming up, Atta offers to fund Josephine Warren-Brookstone’s campaign. The presidential hopeful has been doing well but is almost out of money and accepts Atta’s contributions. The candidate does not know her benefactor’s true identity. The alarming second part of Atta’s plan involves deadly weapons. When the CIA finds a possible link between Warren-Brookstone and terrorists, Atta sends assassin Fatima Hadhari to kill a few agents. But one of those potential targets is analyst William Peterson, whose childhood friend is martial arts–trained Navy SEAL JD Cordell. The SEAL’s involvement ultimately puts him and his parents, Curtis and Mai, in danger. Will JD discover the details of Atta’s scheme before it’s too late? Gilbert’s action-oriented tale is dense with characters and personal histories, resulting in narrative stretches without the formidable JD. But the myriad subplots and backstories are often enthralling. The book’s opening chapters take place during the Vietnam War and feature JD’s parents. In Vietnam, Mai aids a lost and injured American soldier, Lt. Curtis Cordell, and subsequently guides him to a military outpost. All of the story’s characters are well developed, producing genuine shocks when certain individuals die. The author writes in an unadorned prose that keeps the plot moving at a steady beat. There’s quite a bit of violence, and despite the tale not lingering on bloodier moments, a few stand out in their sheer ferocity. Although readers will likely anticipate an ending action scene—featuring a confrontation between two key players—the finale is still exhilarating.

Resonant characters propel this consistently gripping terrorist tale. (acknowledgements, author’s note, author bio)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-692-96131-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2020


Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.

A much-beloved author gives a favorite recurring character her own novel.

Holly Gibney made her first appearance in print with a small role in Mr. Mercedes (2014). She played a larger role in The Outsider (2018). And she was the central character in If It Bleeds, a novella in the 2020 collection of the same name. King has said that the character “stole his heart.” Readers adore her, too. One way to look at this book is as several hundred pages of fan service. King offers a lot of callbacks to these earlier works that are undoubtedly a treat for his most loyal devotees. That these easter eggs are meaningless and even befuddling to new readers might make sense in terms of costs and benefits. King isn’t exactly an author desperate to grow his audience; pleasing the people who keep him at the top of the bestseller lists is probably a smart strategy, and this writer achieved the kind of status that whatever he writes is going to be published. Having said all that, it’s possible that even his hardcore fans might find this story a bit slow. There are also issues in terms of style. Much of the language King uses and the cultural references he drops feel a bit creaky. The word slacks occurs with distracting frequency. King uses the phrase keeping it on the down-low in a way that suggests he probably doesn’t understand how this phrase is currently used—and has been used for quite a while. But the biggest problem is that this narrative is framed as a mystery without delivering the pleasures of a mystery. The reader knows who the bad guys are from the start. This can be an effective storytelling device, but in this case, waiting for the private investigator heroine to get to where the reader is at the beginning of the story feels interminable.

Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781668016138

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023


The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.

Harry Bosch and the Lincoln Lawyer team up to exonerate a woman who’s already served five years for killing her ex-husband.

The evidence against Lucinda Sanz was so overwhelming that she followed the advice of Frank Silver, the B-grade attorney who’d elbowed his way onto her defense, and pleaded no contest to manslaughter to avoid a life sentence for shooting Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Roberto Sanz in the back as he stalked out of her yard after their latest argument. But now that her son, Eric, is 13, old enough to get recruited by local gangs, she wants to be out of stir and at his side. So she writes to Mickey Haller, who asks his half-brother for help. After all his years working for the LAPD, Bosch is adamant about not working for a criminal defendant, even though Haller’s already taken him on as an associate so that he can get access to private health insurance and a UCLA medical trial for an experimental cancer treatment. But the habeas corpus hearing Haller’s aiming for isn’t, strictly speaking, a criminal defense proceeding, and even a cursory examination of the forensic evidence raises Bosch’s hackles. Bolstered by Bosch’s discoveries and a state-of-the-art digital reconstruction of the shooting, Haller heads to court to face Assistant Attorney General Hayden Morris, who has a few tricks up his own sleeve. The endlessly resourceful courtroom back-and-forth is furious in its intensity, although Haller eventually upstages Bosch, Morris, and everyone else in sight. What really stands out here, however, is that Connelly never lets you forget, from his title onward, the life-or-death issues behind every move in the game.

The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780316563765

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

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