An intriguing story that begs to be finished but reads as if it should be a bingeworthy TV series instead.

THE HOLDOUT

A woman finds herself playing multiple roles—juror, attorney, investigator, and suspect—in this legal drama–meets–murder investigation set in Los Angeles.

Maya Seale, a white, bilingual transplant from New Mexico, is both a 36-year-old criminal defense attorney and a 26-year-old juror in a novel that jumps between two storylines, one set in 2019 and one in 2009. In the latter, Maya was the lone not-guilty holdout in a Los Angeles jury that eventually flipped and acquitted Bobby Nock, a 25-year-old black part-time English teacher, in a high-profile murder trial. Bobby was accused of killing one of his students, Jessica Silver, the 15-year-old white daughter of a property titan worth billions. But there was no body. Rick Leonard, a black juror, is plagued with guilt over the acquittal and dedicates a decade to discovering the jurors’ closely held secrets and proving Bobby’s guilt. These efforts result in a deal for an eight-hour true-crime docuseries on Bobby, the trial, and the jurors who acquitted him. After 10 of the 11 living jurors gather at a hotel in 2019 to begin taping, Rick is found dead in Maya’s hotel room. The book’s second storyline follows Maya, now a murder suspect herself, as she tries to clear her name. Author Moore’s (The Last Days of Night, 2016, etc.) background as a screenwriter is apparent in this dialogue-heavy book that features a cast of more than two dozen and two storylines that unfold concurrently. The characters in each might be the same, but they are simultaneously heroes and villains, flawed people with god complexes, and individuals just trying to do their best for themselves and, perhaps, others. The characters’ emotions as they argue and discuss issues such as race and justice feel flat, however, as if actors are required to bring their voices to life.

An intriguing story that begs to be finished but reads as if it should be a bingeworthy TV series instead.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-399-59177-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This is fast-paced, nonstop fun. Cussler fans will gobble it up.

JOURNEY OF THE PHARAOHS

Rumors of lost Egyptian treasure spark high adventure in this 17th in the NUMA series featuring oceanographer Kurt Austin and his crew (Sea of Greed, 2018, etc.).

Over 3,000 years ago, grave robbers sail away with loot from a pharaoh’s tomb. In 1927, Jake Melbourne and his plane disappear in his attempt at a trans-Atlantic flight. In the present day, arms merchants known as the Bloodstone Group have taken to stealing antiquities. They are looking for a “treasure both vast and glorious” that hieroglyphics say was shipped down the Nile and out of Egypt, perhaps even west across the Atlantic. (Holy scurvy! That must’ve been a lot of hard rowing!) The criminals are known to MI5 as “very dangerous people" and "merchants selling death.” Perfectly willing to kill everyone in their way, they are aided by mechanical crows and Fydor and Xandra, nasty sibling assassins jointly called the Toymaker. Such are the foes faced by Austin and his team from the National Underwater and Marine Agency. Of course, Austin has no interest in profit; he will gladly leave the ancient riches wherever they are. Action arrives early and often, and the failed pre-Lindbergh flight fits in neatly. Cussler and Brown concoct a nifty plot with disparate, sometimes over-the-top twists that will make even hardcore adventure fans say “Wow!” Expect claustrophobic gunfights, aerial combat, a life-threatening flood, messages from the dead, coffins of gold—and a vintage classic car, because why not? “We’re going to steal the greatest deposit of Egyptian treasure the world has ever known,” brags the evil mastermind. But he’ll have to climb over the series hero’s dead body first, which—no plot spoiler here—ain’t gonna happen.

This is fast-paced, nonstop fun. Cussler fans will gobble it up.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-08308-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

more