A dark thriller for difficult times.

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THE BLACK WIDOW

A fitting (supposedly) final mission for one of fiction’s greatest spies.

A bomb explodes in the Marais district of Paris, a region known for its large Jewish population. One of the victims had a personal connection to Gabriel Allon, the man poised to become the next chief of Israel’s intelligence service, and that’s why the legendary assassin and spy joins the hunt for a terrorist mastermind known only as Saladin. Allon has been trying to escape his past since he first appeared in The Kill Artist (2000), so it’s no surprise that Silva must provide a lure if he’s going to get his hero back into the field for one last mission. But the 16th installment in this series is marked by a subtle shift in emphasis. Allon remains as compelling as ever, but Silva is clearly preparing readers for a world in which his hero takes a supporting role. Two members of Allon’s team—Mikhail Abramov and Dina Sarid—seem poised to play a larger part in future novels. But it’s Allon’s newest recruit who takes center stage here. Dr. Natalie Mizrahi is a French-born Israeli. As Leila Hadawi, the daughter of Palestinian refugees, Natalie becomes part of the terrorist network ruled by Saladin. This is not the first time agents have gone undercover in one of Silva’s novels, but Natalie’s experience is the most harrowing. A Jew hiding in the heart of the so-called caliphate, she knows that a single misstep will result in her own horrific death. More than that, she knows that failure to complete her mission will mean hundreds—if not thousands—more deaths. Before he became a novelist, Silva was a journalist stationed in the Middle East. His Gabriel Allon novels have tracked—and, in some cases, anticipated—the rise of the Islamic State group. In his foreword, he notes that he began writing this story before the Paris attacks of 2015.

A dark thriller for difficult times.

Pub Date: July 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-232022-3

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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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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POP GOES THE WEASEL

After a flight in fantasy with When the Wind Blows (1998), Patterson goes to ground with another slash-and-squirm psychokiller page-turner, this one dedicated to “the millions of Alex Cross readers, who so frequently ask, can’t you write faster?” By day, Geoffrey Shafer is a charming, 42-year-old British Embassy paper-pusher with a picture-perfect family and a shady past as an MI-6 secret agent. Come sundown, he swallows a pharmacy of psychoactive pills, gulps three black coffees loaded with sugar, and roams the streets of Washington, D.C., in a battered cab, where, disguised as a black man, he rolls dice to determine which among his black female fares he—ll murder. Afterwards he dumps his naked victims in crime-infested back alleys of black- slum neighborhoods, then sends e-mails boasting of his accomplishments to three other former MI-6 agents involved in a hellish Internet role-playing game. “I sensed I was at the start of another homicide mess,” sighs forensic-psychologist turned homicide-detective Alex Cross. Cross yearns to catch the “Jane Doe murderer” but is thwarted by Det. Chief George Pittman, who assigns sexy Det. Patsy Hampton to investigate Cross and come up with a reason for dismissing him. Meanwhile, Cross’s fiancÇe is kidnaped during a Bermuda vacation, and an anonymous e-mail warns him to back off. He doesn’t, of course, and just when it appears that Patterson is sleep-walking through his story, Cross nabs Shafer minutes after Shafer kills Det. Hampton. During the subsequent high-visibility trail, Shafer manages to make the jury believe that he’s innocent and that Cross was trying to frame him. When all seems lost, a sympathetic British intelligence chief offers to help Cross bring down Shafer, and the other homicidal game-players, during a showdown on the breezy beaches of Jamaica. Kinky mayhem, a cartoonish villain, regular glimpses of the kindly Cross caring for his loved ones, and an ending that spells a sequel: Patterson’s fans couldn’t ask for more.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-69328-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1999

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