A conceivable threat and suspense-filled plot keep readers engaged until the end.



An Army captain struggles to make sense of an impending terrorist plot on U.S. soil while battling Washington bureaucracy in Hampton’s well-researched thriller.

U.S. Army Capt. Ben Hawkins has a sneaking suspicion that a basic investigation into faulty record-keeping at the Tupelo Chemical Research Center will yield bigger issues for his Criminal Investigations Command. Soon, he’s hot on the trail of missing nerve gas, an AWOL Army officer tasked with destroying the fatal toxin, a kidnapped coed and a mysterious source who seems just as intent on stopping a terrorist attack as Hawkins. When several other U.S. agencies get involved, Hawkins has difficulty ceding the case to a by-the-books FBI assistant director, and he must choose between a possible court marshal and trusting his unverified source, an enigmatic man calling himself Julian. Despite all signs pointing to a typical rogue-agent thriller, debut novelist Hampton eschews the genre’s typical plot holes and vague facts. Hampton served in the military, and he includes a wealth of authentic details, from the types of vehicles used in the CID to the military history that propels terrorists to plan an attack against the U.S, even against the wishes of their own government. As for the story’s villains, Hampton’s handle on international relations gives them credible motivations, though readers may yearn for deeper insight into the personal pasts of these vengeful Middle Eastern patriots. Likewise, Julian, a high-ranking Iranian intelligence officer, has charm, strategic thinking, a sense of humor and a never-ending repository of spy tricks. In other words, he’s a Middle Eastern James Bond. Unfortunately, Hampton truncates Julian’s character development in favor of Hawkins’ rather bland private life, which consists mostly of meeting his fiancee for meals and working on a sailboat. Hawkins, and the reader, doesn’t have much time to ponder breakfast or rudders, however, as Hampton deftly weaves a complex plot taking the action to Europe, the Middle East and various American locations. The terrorists’ plans are tightly wrought and hinge on a terrifying possibility, uncovered in the first few pages, that chemical weapons marked for destruction in the U.S. could be stolen and turned against American citizens. Hampton forcefully brings this point home, while packing in surprises until the very last pages.

A conceivable threat and suspense-filled plot keep readers engaged until the end.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-1470048082

Page Count: 248

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

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Now that Coben’s added politics to his heady brew, expect sex and religion to join the mix.

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Coben’s latest darkest-suburbs thriller sets a decidedly offbeat detective on the trail of a crime with overtones unmistakably redolent of once and future presidential elections.

Wilde is called Wilde because nobody’s known his real name from the moment a pair of hikers found him foraging for himself in Ramapo Mountain State Forest 24 years ago. Now over 40, he’s had experience as both a lost boy and a private investigator. That makes him an obvious person to help when his godson, Sweet Water High School student Matthew Crimstein, expresses concern to his grandmother, attorney Hester Crimstein, that his bullied classmate Naomi Pine has gone missing. Matthew doesn’t really want anyone to help. He doesn’t even want anyone to notice his agitation. But Hester, taking the time from her criminal defense of financial consultant Simon Greene (Run Away, 2019) to worm the details out of him, asks Wilde to lend a hand, and sure enough, Wilde, unearthing an unsavory backstory that links Naomi to bullying classmate Crash Maynard, whose TV producer father, Dash Maynard, is close friends with reality TV star–turned–presidential hopeful Rusty Eggers, finds Naomi hale and hearty. Everything’s hunky-dory for one week, and then she disappears again. And this time, so does Crash after a brief visit to Matthew in which he tearfully confesses his guilt about the bad stuff he did to Naomi. This second disappearance veers into more obviously criminal territory with the arrival of a ransom note that demands, not money, but the allegedly incriminating videotapes of Rusty Eggers that Dash and Delia Maynard have had squirreled away for 30 years. The tapes link Rusty to a forgotten and forgettable homicide and add a paranoid new ripped-from-the-headlines dimension to the author’s formidable range. Readers who can tune out all the subplots will find the kidnappers easy to spot, but Coben finds room for three climactic surprises, one of them a honey.

Now that Coben’s added politics to his heady brew, expect sex and religion to join the mix.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4814-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.


Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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