DEFEATING OPERATION HYDRA

A rising star in the New York District Attorney’s office suffers her first loss, the high profile prosecution of a defendant accused of a grisly homicide, and spirals into an emotional meltdown that ultimately ensnares her in a dangerous web of drugs, violence and terrorism.

Smith, a trial attorney in Atlanta, Ga., makes good use of his professional experience in this debut novel. The early scenes are packed with engaging cat-and-mouse courtroom drama. A devastating cross-examination of the defendant appears to leave little doubt that prosecutor Sharon Weinstock will win another conviction—that is, until a hung jury results in a mistrial. Weinstock is a compelling character—a young attorney who is tightly wound and keeps her life exceedingly well organized. When she unravels, it is in spectacular form, beginning with an uncharacteristic flight to Aruba and a night of drunken abandon. After an improbable tryst with the very defendant she had been trying to convict, Weinstock finds herself involved with a series of psychopathic charmers who test the limits of her courage and previously untapped skills in a deadly contest set against the backdrop of the second Gulf War. The writing is occasionally uneven (and grammarians may cringe at the haphazard switching of tenses throughout the novel), but Smith keeps the tension steady, providing surprising alliances and backstabbers. A satisfying love interest offers moments of respite from the violence that emerges behind every corner. The nature of “Operation Hydra” itself does not emerge until the final chapters. Were it not for the title and the dust jacket details, readers might not immediately suspect the scope of the larger conspiracy. The major premise of the book becomes less important than the adventure itself. And readers who grow to enjoy Weinstock’s sharp mind and indefatigable determination will be pleased that Smith has set the stage for the possible reappearance of his heroine in a sequel. An entertaining page-turner for devotees of international thrillers.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1462898800

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2012

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These characters are so beloved that readers may not mind when a few twists veer dangerously close to the absurd.

WHEN YOU SEE ME

Three Gardner fan favorites—FBI agent Kimberly Quincy, Sgt. D.D. Warren of the Boston Police, and serial-killer–survivor–turned-vigilante Flora Dane—team up to untangle a series of murders, and lots of small-town secrets, in the Georgia hills.

On a hike in the hills outside the quaint tourist town of Niche, Georgia, a couple finds the partial skeletal remains of Lilah Abenito, who went missing 15 years ago. Lilah was thought to be one of the first victims connected to Jacob Ness, who kidnapped Flora eight years ago when she was a Boston college student and held her captive, mostly in a coffin-sized box, for 472 days. The chance to link the deceased Ness to additional crimes is impossible to pass up, and FBI agent Kimberly Quincy invites D.D., Flora (who is a confidential informant for D.D.), and computer analyst Keith Edgar, Flora's friend/love interest, to be part of her task force. A search through the hills turns up a mass grave full of more skeletal remains. While D.D. is updating the mayor, Howard Counsel, and his wife, Martha, who own the charming Mountain Laurel B&B, she becomes interested in their timid, fearful maid, a young Hispanic woman who's brain damaged and unable to speak following a car accident when she was a child. When Martha suddenly hangs herself (or so it seems), D.D. realizes something very odd is going on at ye olde B&B. Gardner juggles multiple narratives, including that of the Counsels’ nameless maid, with ease. However, the involvement of two civilians in a major federal task force is initially hard to swallow, as are a few supernatural elements Gardner (Look for Me, 2018, etc.) shoehorns in. But Flora’s tentative romance with Keith and her realization that she might finally be thriving, not just surviving, are bright spots, as is Gardner’s evolving and sensitive exploration of trauma and its insidious, lasting effects.

These characters are so beloved that readers may not mind when a few twists veer dangerously close to the absurd.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4500-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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

THE SILENT PATIENT

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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