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OF VITAL INTEREST

For fans of the genre, this story of military action will not disappoint.

Two men’s lives are forever changed when their paths cross in Demith’s military thriller.

Samir Al Khafaji is quiet and keeps to himself, showing promise in his chosen path as a linguist for the United States Army, but something about him makes his superiors suspicious. Unbeknownst to those around him, Al Khafaji is working undercover for Jihadists, scheming to gain the military’s trust to cause as much destruction and death as possible—he believes his fellow soldiers are infidels and traitors, and that it is therefore his duty to kill them (“I will take pleasure in what is waiting for them once we get to Iraq”). Sgt. Abdullah is a man of integrity, honor, and hard work. He repeatedly goes back to Iraq, returning to visit the childhood home he left when his family moved to the United States. As a soldier in the Army, he’s worked as a linguist and a mechanic, and he is dedicated to serving his country. Alongside them is Sara Rashidi, who trained with Al Khafaji to become a linguist, joining the Army after her Kurdish family was killed by Iraqi combatants. The three of them are sent to Iraq to find and take down a militant cell of terrorists with other linguists and old friends, some of whom may not survive the oncoming battle. Abdullah and Al Khafaji are compelling foils for each other, with the story switching between their points of view and illustrating their different perspectives on the war in Iraq. Sara provides another outlook, having been greatly affected by the conflicts in her home country. Demith supports this action-packed story with his own vast knowledge of the military, carefully detailing the large amount of training and planning that goes into missions. The great volume of technical information that makes up a large portion of the book is deftly conveyed and made easy for the average reader to understand and follow. Exposition is skillfully woven into the development of the story of Abdullah and Al Khafaji, which leads to a satisfying ending.

For fans of the genre, this story of military action will not disappoint.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781962202299

Page Count: 292

Publisher: Ballast Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2024

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THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE

A weird, wild ride.

Celebrity scandal and a haunted lake drive the narrative in this bestselling author’s latest serving of subtly ironic suspense.

Sager’s debut, Final Girls (2017), was fun and beautifully crafted. His most recent novels—Home Before Dark (2020) and Survive the Night (2021) —have been fun and a bit rickety. His new novel fits that mold. Narrator Casey Fletcher grew up watching her mother dazzle audiences, and then she became an actor herself. While she never achieves the “America’s sweetheart” status her mother enjoyed, Casey makes a career out of bit parts in movies and on TV and meatier parts onstage. Then the death of her husband sends her into an alcoholic spiral that ends with her getting fired from a Broadway play. When paparazzi document her substance abuse, her mother exiles her to the family retreat in Vermont. Casey has a dry, droll perspective that persists until circumstances overwhelm her, and if you’re getting a Carrie Fisher vibe from Casey Fletcher, that is almost certainly not an accident. Once in Vermont, she passes the time drinking bourbon and watching the former supermodel and the tech mogul who live across the lake through a pair of binoculars. Casey befriends Katherine Royce after rescuing her when she almost drowns and soon concludes that all is not well in Katherine and Tom’s marriage. Then Katherine disappears….It would be unfair to say too much about what happens next, but creepy coincidences start piling up, and eventually, Casey has to face the possibility that maybe some of the eerie legends about Lake Greene might have some truth to them. Sager certainly delivers a lot of twists, and he ventures into what is, for him, new territory. Are there some things that don’t quite add up at the end? Maybe, but asking that question does nothing but spoil a highly entertaining read.

A weird, wild ride.

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-18319-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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HOME IS WHERE THE BODIES ARE

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

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Three siblings on very different paths learn that their family home may be haunted by secrets.

Eldest daughter Beth is alone with her fading mother as she takes her final breath and says something about Beth’s long-departed brother and sister, who may not have disappeared forever. Beth is still reeling from the loss of her mother when her estranged siblings show up. Michael, the youngest, hasn’t been home since their father’s disappearance seven years ago. In the meantime, he’s outgrown his siblings, trading his share of the family troubles for a high-paying job in San Jose. Nicole, the middle child, has been overpowered by addiction and prioritized tuning out reality over any sense of responsibility, much to Beth’s disgust. Though their mother’s death marks an ending for the family, it’s also a beginning, as the three siblings realize when they find a disturbing videotape among their parents’ belongings. The video, from 1999, sheds suspicion on their father’s disappearance, linking it to a long-unsolved neighborhood mystery. Was it just a series of unfortunate circumstances that broke the family apart, or does something more sinister underlie the sadness they’ve all found in life? In chapters that rotate among the family’s first-person narratives, the siblings take turns digging up stories and secrets in their search for solace.

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9798212182843

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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