A thrilling start to a new series starring a complex assassin.

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From the The Assassin Series series

When his pregnant wife is killed in the couple’s mob-torched Brooklyn business, an Iraq War veteran sets out on a mission for payback.

Nees’ (After the Fall, 2016) latest novel serves as the origin story of Dan Stone, former military sniper and current assassin. Six months after Dan and his wife, Rita, opened a neighborhood restaurant, made man Joey Batone shows up offering “protection” for a fee. After Dan turns him down, he and Joey punch it out, and the mobster gets whooped. In retaliation, Joey sends a flash-bang grenade into Dan and Rita’s restaurant, burning it to the ground. Working late, Rita and her unborn child become collateral damage. After the funeral, Dan disappears out West for several months to sharpen his sniper skills, purchase fake IDs and weapons, and master the art of disguise. When he secretly returns to New York, he interferes with Mafia shakedowns and kills some mobsters close to Joey but not the murderer himself. Dan wants Joey to sweat, and the sweat indeed pours out of him. He knows Dan is out to kill him and that the mob is turning on him too because he’s causing it problems. The Mafia wants Dan found, as do the cops, the FBI, and CIA operative Jane Tanner. Her task is to groom terrorist assassins to work for the agency. She needs to find killers who are “not so amoral that they would turn on her or the agency when a better offer” comes along. Jane calculates Dan is an ideal candidate, but locating and wooing him before anyone else gets to him is a challenge. Jane is one of several strong, smart women in this well-executed thriller. When an FBI agent suggests to her that not two people, but only one—Rita—died in the restaurant fire, Jane counters, “She was pregnant. We women think about that.” The dialogue is convincing and tailored to the characters. In addition, the storyline is intricate without seeming over-the-top. Dan’s a multifaceted antihero amid a group of intriguing characters on both sides of the law, with some walking the fine line between the two.

A thrilling start to a new series starring a complex assassin.

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-975893-29-3

Page Count: 378

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2017

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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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Assembly-line legal thriller: flat characters, lame scene-setting, and short but somehow interminable action: a lifeless...

SPLIT SECOND

Two defrocked Secret Service Agents investigate the assassination of one presidential candidate and the kidnapping of another.

Baldacci (The Christmas Train, 2002, etc.) sets out with two plot strands. The first begins when something distracts Secret Service Agent Sean King and during that “split second,” presidential candidate Clyde Ritter is shot dead. King takes out the killer, but that’s not enough to save his reputation with the Secret Service. He retires and goes on to do often tedious but nonetheless always lucrative work (much like a legal thriller such as this) at a law practice. Plot two begins eight years later when another Secret Service Agent, Michelle Maxwell, lets presidential candidate John Bruno out of her sight for a few minutes at a wake for one of his close associates. He goes missing. Now Maxwell, too, gets in dutch with the SS. Though separated by time, the cases are similar and leave several questions unanswered. What distracted King at the rally? Bruno had claimed his friend’s widow called him to the funeral home. The widow (one of the few characters here to have any life) says she never called Bruno. Who set him up? Who did a chambermaid at Ritter’s hotel blackmail? And who is the man in the Buick shadowing King’s and Maxwell’s every move? King is a handsome, rich divorce, Maxwell an attractive marathon runner. Will they join forces and find each other kind of, well, appealing? But of course. The two former agents traverse the countryside, spinning endless hypotheses before the onset, at last, of a jerrybuilt conclusion that begs credibility and offers few surprises.

Assembly-line legal thriller: flat characters, lame scene-setting, and short but somehow interminable action: a lifeless concoction.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2003

ISBN: 0-446-53089-1

Page Count: 406

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2003

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