An entertaining series denouement that runs at full tilt.


From the Spies Lie series , Vol. 10

Two newlyweds on their honeymoon, a hacker and a former Mossad assassin, learn of a potentially dangerous covert op in the 10th installment of the Spies Lie thriller series. 

Stanford University senior Ann Sashakovich has just faced off against a rogue artificial intelligence, with help from the AI she and fellow students built. But now she has more pressing issues, such as choosing a career path and marrying the much older man she loves, Jon Sommers, a former Mossad operative. Amid ongoing classes and impending interviews with potential employers ranging from the CIA to Google, Ann must also persuade her adoptive parents to OK her wedding. They’re uncomfortable with the couple’s age discrepancy, and Jon is their boss at the U.N. Paramilitary Force. Then Mossad director Avram Shimmel reactivates Jon so he can help track down terrorists in Israel whose bomb killed hundreds, including Avram’s wife. Ann reluctantly agrees to accept the offer of an accompanying job as a Mossad hacker, provided she and Jon first tie the knot. Unfortunately, the newlyweds’ London honeymoon puts them somewhat near a dead drop in Scotland—blueprints for a military weapon linked to the bombing. The couple go on an Edinburgh whisky tour for intel—until someone desperate for a vital thumb drive starts knocking off tourists; honeymoon or not, Jon wants to get to the bottom of it. Kane (brAInbender, 2018, etc.) jam-packs his story with easy-to-keep-track-of characters, including returning ones such as Ann’s parents, Lee Ainsley, and the original series protagonist, Cassie Sashakovich. Moreover, narrative shifts among so many people make for brief scenes and a consistently speedy pace. The story lacks a few pertinent details: Ann and Jon’s trip from London to Edinburgh, for example, has an inexplicable 18-day gap. Still, it’s exhilarating to watch Ann’s intermittent displays of special talents, such as the ability to access the internet mentally, stemming from a prior nanodevice overdose. Although this book is said to be the last in the series, some characters’ open endings leave room for spinoffs.

An entertaining series denouement that runs at full tilt.

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9996554-7-4

Page Count: 283

Publisher: Swiftshadow Group, Inc.

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2020

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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