Fun fare by a talented storyteller. Let's just hope Ricciardi's hero doesn't change his name again.



CIA agent Jake Keller’s drone nearly starts World War III, and he puts his life on the line to prevent it in this nonstop thriller.

Let’s get this out of the way first: Zac Miller, the hero of Ricciardi's Warning Light (2018), has changed his name to Jake Keller, but he’s still a badass. With colleague Curt Roach, they launch a drone called Drifter-72 against an al-Qaida terrorist in Saudi Arabia. But it escapes their control, flies to Mecca, and obliterates 3,000 Muslims on the last day of the Hajj at “the holiest site in all of Islam.” Suddenly, the whole world hates the United States. Keller convinces his bosses that the drone had been hijacked, but by whom? Apparently, by someone who wants to drive a permanent wedge between America and Muslims. The backlash is ferocious, with many small groups of terrorists infiltrating the U.S., shooting up civilians and blowing up fuel storage facilities. Bad guys hire an old freighter bound for Texas and load a container holding a nuke. Saudi Arabia’s king professes faith in America’s innocence, but that may get him killed. America’s strong suspicion for the Hajj attack turns to China, the only other country with the technical ability to reprogram someone else’s drone in flight. That could well mean a full-blown conflict between two big, angry countries with nukes. If the U.S. believes China “attacked another nation in their name, then there will be war,” states China’s President Chéng. Obviously, Keller and company had better sort this out PDQ. This yarn has a Category 5 hurricane in the Caribbean, a nasty sandstorm and a pitched battle in a Roman coliseum in Libya, and of course the proverbial ticking clock. Plenty of bodies fall from high-velocity lead poisoning, and the tension in this well-plotted thriller continues right to the end.

Fun fare by a talented storyteller. Let's just hope Ricciardi's hero doesn't change his name again.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-58576-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.


A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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


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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