When you’ve published more than 200 spy novels, as de Villiers (1929-2013) did, some are bound to be unnervingly prescient....

SURFACE TO AIR

A guileless would-be terrorist looking to buy a missile stirs up a hornet’s nest of Russian and American agents, each working his own dangerous angle.

Ever since a misdirected American drone wiped out most of his family, Parviz Amritzar, a naturalized American citizen born in Pakistan, has thirsted for revenge. Now his online research, whipped up by a local imam, has led him to a plan: he’ll get hold of an Igla-5 missile and shoot down Air Force One. Money is no object to Amritzar, whose wholesale carpet business has made him wealthy, but geopolitics is. The Igla-5 is manufactured in Russia, and the Russians aren’t eager to sell any of the missiles to a freelancer. But FBI assistant director Leslie Bryant, head of the Vanguard counterterrorist unit, is eager to pretend to partner with Amritzar long enough to get evidence against him that’ll lock him up forever; Bruce Hathaway, operations director of the Moscow FBI, is willing to ask Col. Sergei Tretyakov, of the FSB, to supply him with an Igla-5 to dangle in front of Amritzar; and spymaster Rem Tolkachev, briefed on this highly unusual transaction, sees no reason why he shouldn’t take advantage of it to set a trap for Hathaway so that he can be arrested and duly exchanged for Viktor Bout, an arms merchant imprisoned in the U.S. With so many players playing so many different games, there’s scarcely room for freelance CIA agent Malko Linge (Revenge of the Kremlin, 2015, etc.), but he manages to shake up the playing field, bed the best-looking women, kill the underlings most in need of killing, and save the world.

When you’ve published more than 200 spy novels, as de Villiers (1929-2013) did, some are bound to be unnervingly prescient. This one, which reads like a retro parody of James Bond (the high-tech weaponry! the double-crosses! the garter belts!), won’t cost you a single night’s sleep.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8041-6939-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once...

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

In Baldacci’s 19th (True Blue, 2009, etc.), boy and girl monster-hunters meet cute.

Evan Waller, aka Fadir Kuchin, aka “the Butcher of Kiev,” aka “the Ukrainian psychopath,” is one of those deep-dyed villains a certain kind of fiction can’t do without. Serving with distinction as part of the Soviet Union’s KGB, he joyfully and indiscriminately killed thousands. Now, many years later, posing as a successful businessman, he’s vacationing in Provence where, unbeknownst to him, two separate clandestine operations are being mounted by people who do not regard him with favor. Reggie Campion—28 and gorgeous—spearheads the first, an ad hoc group of monster-hunting vigilantes. Studly, tall Shaw (no first name supplied) is point guard for a rival team, shadowy enough to leave the matter of its origin ambiguous. While their respective teams reconnoiter and jockey for position, studly boy meets gorgeous girl. Monster-hunters are famous for having trust issues, but clearly these are drawn to each other in the time-honored Hollywood fashion. Shaw saves Reggie’s life. She returns the favor. The attraction deepens and heats up to the point where team-members on both sides grow unsettled by the loss of focus, singularly inopportune since, as monsters go, Waller rises to the second coming of Caligula—ample testimony furnished by a six-page, unsparingly detailed torture scene. In the end, the stalkers strike, bullets fly, screams curdle the blood, love has its innings and a monster does what a monster’s got to do.

The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once again show the stuff it’s made of.

Pub Date: April 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-446-56408-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Avon A/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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POP GOES THE WEASEL

After a flight in fantasy with When the Wind Blows (1998), Patterson goes to ground with another slash-and-squirm psychokiller page-turner, this one dedicated to “the millions of Alex Cross readers, who so frequently ask, can’t you write faster?” By day, Geoffrey Shafer is a charming, 42-year-old British Embassy paper-pusher with a picture-perfect family and a shady past as an MI-6 secret agent. Come sundown, he swallows a pharmacy of psychoactive pills, gulps three black coffees loaded with sugar, and roams the streets of Washington, D.C., in a battered cab, where, disguised as a black man, he rolls dice to determine which among his black female fares he—ll murder. Afterwards he dumps his naked victims in crime-infested back alleys of black- slum neighborhoods, then sends e-mails boasting of his accomplishments to three other former MI-6 agents involved in a hellish Internet role-playing game. “I sensed I was at the start of another homicide mess,” sighs forensic-psychologist turned homicide-detective Alex Cross. Cross yearns to catch the “Jane Doe murderer” but is thwarted by Det. Chief George Pittman, who assigns sexy Det. Patsy Hampton to investigate Cross and come up with a reason for dismissing him. Meanwhile, Cross’s fiancÇe is kidnaped during a Bermuda vacation, and an anonymous e-mail warns him to back off. He doesn’t, of course, and just when it appears that Patterson is sleep-walking through his story, Cross nabs Shafer minutes after Shafer kills Det. Hampton. During the subsequent high-visibility trail, Shafer manages to make the jury believe that he’s innocent and that Cross was trying to frame him. When all seems lost, a sympathetic British intelligence chief offers to help Cross bring down Shafer, and the other homicidal game-players, during a showdown on the breezy beaches of Jamaica. Kinky mayhem, a cartoonish villain, regular glimpses of the kindly Cross caring for his loved ones, and an ending that spells a sequel: Patterson’s fans couldn’t ask for more.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-69328-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1999

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