Another chilling glimpse inside global terror networks from a gifted storyteller.

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HOUSE OF SPIES

Gabriel Allon is back in the field.

Well, that didn’t take long. By the end of Black Widow (2016), spy Gabriel Allon had finally agreed to become chief of Israel’s intelligence services. All it takes is a terrorist attack on London’s West End—and a whisper that Allon’s current nemesis was the mastermind behind it—to get this storied spy out from behind his desk and back into the thick of it. As they track the man known only as Saladin, Allon and his team travel from Britain to Saint-Tropez and Morocco. They enlist the grudging assistance of a glamorous French entrepreneur (who is in reality a drug smuggler) and his partner, a beautiful onetime model. And they discover the Islamic State has plans that go beyond suicide bombers and vehicular homicide. As usual, Silva has crafted a story that feels ripped from the headlines—possibly tomorrow’s headlines. His characters are confronting an Islamic State that is redefining itself as a virtual entity as it loses physical territory. They’re also fighting against an organization that is shifting its focus from building a caliphate in the Middle East to inflicting casualties in Europe and the United States. This is a less psychologically intense novel than Black Widow, and fans drawn to this series by Gabriel’s sideline as a restorer of Old Master paintings might miss the art history. But this is still a riveting thriller, and Silva’s writing has lost none of its elegance. He provides readers with just enough real-world geopolitics to make sense of his narrative, and his depictions of the different styles of the world’s diverse intelligence services is fascinating as always. What’s different in this installment is the sense that the role of the United States is diminishing in the world. Even though the U.S. asserts itself into the search for Saladin, there’s a clear sense among the British, the French, and the Israelis that their American counterparts are no longer reliable allies.

Another chilling glimpse inside global terror networks from a gifted storyteller.

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-235434-1

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once...

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

In Baldacci’s 19th (True Blue, 2009, etc.), boy and girl monster-hunters meet cute.

Evan Waller, aka Fadir Kuchin, aka “the Butcher of Kiev,” aka “the Ukrainian psychopath,” is one of those deep-dyed villains a certain kind of fiction can’t do without. Serving with distinction as part of the Soviet Union’s KGB, he joyfully and indiscriminately killed thousands. Now, many years later, posing as a successful businessman, he’s vacationing in Provence where, unbeknownst to him, two separate clandestine operations are being mounted by people who do not regard him with favor. Reggie Campion—28 and gorgeous—spearheads the first, an ad hoc group of monster-hunting vigilantes. Studly, tall Shaw (no first name supplied) is point guard for a rival team, shadowy enough to leave the matter of its origin ambiguous. While their respective teams reconnoiter and jockey for position, studly boy meets gorgeous girl. Monster-hunters are famous for having trust issues, but clearly these are drawn to each other in the time-honored Hollywood fashion. Shaw saves Reggie’s life. She returns the favor. The attraction deepens and heats up to the point where team-members on both sides grow unsettled by the loss of focus, singularly inopportune since, as monsters go, Waller rises to the second coming of Caligula—ample testimony furnished by a six-page, unsparingly detailed torture scene. In the end, the stalkers strike, bullets fly, screams curdle the blood, love has its innings and a monster does what a monster’s got to do.

The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once again show the stuff it’s made of.

Pub Date: April 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-446-56408-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Avon A/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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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