Forsyth still knows how to spring a surprise. Not his best work, but a taut, readable and swiftly moving tale well suited to...

READ REVIEW

THE COBRA

The master of the political thriller strikes again.

Strike is a good operative word for the cops and crooks who populate the pages of Forsyth’s latest (The Afghan, 2006, etc.), none of whom is afraid to unleash the dogs of war and hurt a lot of people in the bargain. This time the setting is South America, where an impatient U.S. president has decided to heat things up after it becomes ever clearer that the war on drugs isn’t going so well for his team. Who’s he gonna call? The Cobra, naturally, a spook bad enough to put the fear into anyone who hears the sobriquet. Said Cobra, aka Paul Deveraux, is a tough dude, to be sure, so tough that, says one of the president’s aides, he was fired for being “too ruthless”—against the bad guys that is. Devereaux books on down to Colombia, where he’s got to go up against the baddest guy of all—“educated, courteous, mannerly, drawn from pure Spanish stock, scion of a long line of hidalgos” Don Diego Esteban. In between Cobra and Don stands a small army of lesser players, from a right-hand man who’s thorough but never timid to a Brazilian pilot bent on a kamikaze mission to miscellaneous cannon fodder on five continents. Forsyth’s tale drags a little, particularly compared to his first and as yet unbested masterpiece, The Day of the Jackal (1971), at least in part because he takes time out to explain, at some length, the economics and chemistry (horse tranquilizer, anyone?) of the cocaine trade. All those minor players have to have something to do. Yet in the end this is a battle between titans, and it’s fought to a bloody end amid heaps of bodies and at least a few unanticipated casualties, as far as the reader is concerned.

Forsyth still knows how to spring a surprise. Not his best work, but a taut, readable and swiftly moving tale well suited to the beach and airplane.

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-399-15680-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

CROOKED RIVER

FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast finds evil afoot in his latest action-filled adventure (Verses for the Dead, 2018, etc.).

Imagine Florida beachcombers’ shock when they discover a shoe with a severed foot inside. Soon they see dozens more feet, all in identical shoes, bobbing toward the beach. Police and FBI ultimately count more than a hundred of them washing up on Sanibel and Captiva Islands' tranquil shores. Pendergast teams up with the junior Special Agent Armstrong Coldmoon to investigate this strange phenomenon. Oceanographers use a supercomputer to analyze Gulf currents and attempt to determine where the feet entered the ocean. Were they dumped off a ship or an island? Does each one represent a homicide? Analysts examine chemical residues and pollen, even the angle of each foot’s amputation, but the puzzle defies all explanation. Attention focuses on Cuba, where “something terrible was happening” in front of a coastal prison, and on China, the apparent source of the shoes. The clever plot is “a most baffling case indeed” for the brilliant Pendergast, but it’s the type of problem he thrives on. He’s hardly a stereotypical FBI agent, given for example his lemon-colored silk suit, his Panama hat, and his legendary insistence on working alone—until now. Pendergast rarely blinks—perhaps, someone surmises, he’s part reptile. But equally odd is Constance Greene, his “extraordinarily beautiful,” smart, and sarcastic young “ward” who has “eyes that had seen everything and, as a result, were surprised by nothing.” Coldmoon is more down to earth: part Lakota, part Italian, and “every inch a Fed.” Add in murderous drug dealers, an intrepid newspaper reporter, coyotes crossing the U.S.–Mexico border, and a pissed-off wannabe graphic novelist, and you have a thoroughly entertaining cast of characters. There is plenty of suspense, and the action gets bloody.

Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4725-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

ONE GOOD DEED

Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more