THE MARCHING SEASON

The Troubles claim still another victim, as Silva’s attempt to pull off the hat trick falls short of the success of his two earlier spy thrillers. Because they want to torpedo the Good Friday accords that they think will oust the British from Northern Ireland, Kyle Blake and his tiny, murderous Ulster Freedom Brigade (UFB) embark on a wholesale campaign of terrorism, bombing Irish and British landmarks on the same day they’re executing a Sinn Fein notable. Because he’s determined to let the UFB know he stands foursquare behind the accords, Prime Minister Tony Blair insists that the next US Ambassador to Britain be a person of substance. Because he can’t resist the chance to make history once more, retired Senator Douglas Cannon agrees to accept the posting. Because he’s worried about his father-in-law’s safety, and because he’s offered another chance to go after October, the hired assassin who narrowly eluded him in The Mark of the Assassin (1998) and may be involved once again here, ex-CIA agent Michael Osbourne comes back to the Agency to assess counterterrorist measures in London and ends up in the middle of the inevitable UFB attempt on Cannon’s life. All this may sound vaguely familiar, since even real-life Yanks like George Mitchell have taken such major roles in recent Northern Irish history. But when Cannon survives the attempt to return to Washington with Osbourne in tow, stealthily pursued by October and escaped UFB intelligence chief Rebecca Wells, the scent of Tom Clancy’s Patriot Games becomes overpowering. Sadly, Silva’s biggest innovation, the international franchise of diplomats and arms dealers designed to foment worldwide unrest and integrate the New World Order flare-ups that keep Osbourne in business, is the weakest aspect of this rousing but otherwise familiar tale. What survives is a sure hand with the larger picture, some movie-tense action sequences, a hero worth rooting for—and a few lucky members of the supporting cast. (Book-of-the-Month selection; author tour)

Pub Date: March 10, 1999

ISBN: 0-375-50089-8

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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This is fast-paced, nonstop fun. Cussler fans will gobble it up.

JOURNEY OF THE PHARAOHS

Rumors of lost Egyptian treasure spark high adventure in this 17th in the NUMA series featuring oceanographer Kurt Austin and his crew (Sea of Greed, 2018, etc.).

Over 3,000 years ago, grave robbers sail away with loot from a pharaoh’s tomb. In 1927, Jake Melbourne and his plane disappear in his attempt at a trans-Atlantic flight. In the present day, arms merchants known as the Bloodstone Group have taken to stealing antiquities. They are looking for a “treasure both vast and glorious” that hieroglyphics say was shipped down the Nile and out of Egypt, perhaps even west across the Atlantic. (Holy scurvy! That must’ve been a lot of hard rowing!) The criminals are known to MI5 as “very dangerous people" and "merchants selling death.” Perfectly willing to kill everyone in their way, they are aided by mechanical crows and Fydor and Xandra, nasty sibling assassins jointly called the Toymaker. Such are the foes faced by Austin and his team from the National Underwater and Marine Agency. Of course, Austin has no interest in profit; he will gladly leave the ancient riches wherever they are. Action arrives early and often, and the failed pre-Lindbergh flight fits in neatly. Cussler and Brown concoct a nifty plot with disparate, sometimes over-the-top twists that will make even hardcore adventure fans say “Wow!” Expect claustrophobic gunfights, aerial combat, a life-threatening flood, messages from the dead, coffins of gold—and a vintage classic car, because why not? “We’re going to steal the greatest deposit of Egyptian treasure the world has ever known,” brags the evil mastermind. But he’ll have to climb over the series hero’s dead body first, which—no plot spoiler here—ain’t gonna happen.

This is fast-paced, nonstop fun. Cussler fans will gobble it up.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-08308-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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