So long as readers understand they’ll need to buy the sequel (at least!) to learn America’s fate, they’ll enjoy this...

DEEP WAR

The latest hair-raising volume featuring U.S. Navy hero Dan Lenson (Tipping Point, 2015, etc.).

Two years into a multinational war with the People’s Empire of China and the U.S. as the main combatants, the U.S. is in serious trouble. China has already launched a thermonuclear strike that wiped out an American battle group in Hawaii along with 10,000 people. The U.S. does not respond in kind, fearing escalation into total thermonuclear war. Indeed, Chinese leader Zhang threatens to nuke the continental U.S. if the Americans push too hard. Meanwhile, Dan Lenson is missing in action with little hope he’ll be found, but he survives and is soon back on duty and deep in the midst of a truly high-tech war. The Chinese have destroyed communications satellites and conducted sophisticated cybersabotage, for example causing the U.S. to manufacture defective turbine blades essential for their battle cruisers. Both sides have combat robots, but plenty of human blood still flows. The war is fought on a wide-ranging stage from Iran to the mid-Pacific, and Lenson tries to help win it without a “massive thermonuclear exchange.” Deep inside China, a small American force led by Navy SEAL Teddy Oberg hopes to destroy a target and turn the war’s tide. The Vietnamese army (on our side!) desperately tries to fend off a Chinese assault while Marine Sgt. Hector Ramos fights in Taiwan. The USS Savo Island, veteran of several Lenson tales, is damaged and Capt. Cheryl Stuarulakis must scuttle it. There’s ample action for thriller readers, with terrific extended battle scenes on a grand scale, both on land and sea. But the story simply stops midaction, so it’s not quite the one-and-done novel readers might hope for. That abrupt pause is the tale’s only disappointment—the author could have resolved something—but Lenson’s legion of fans will be glad to know that the series is far from finished.

So long as readers understand they’ll need to buy the sequel (at least!) to learn America’s fate, they’ll enjoy this exciting story.

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-10110-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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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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