A historical episode artfully adapted in a bleak tale that offers glimmers of hope for women discarded by society.

DANGEROUS WOMEN

Alas for the hopes of an ardent young reformer aboard a shipful of women convicts when one of them is attacked.

In April 1841, the Rajah leaves London for Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania). Onboard are nearly 200 women convicted of petty crimes and sentenced to transportation to the other side of the world. With them are Capt. Charles Ferguson, master of the Rajah; a pious but stern clergyman; the jovial ship’s doctor; and the 23-year-old matron of the prisoners, idealistic Kezia Hayter. She hopes to build a community among the women by choosing 18 of them to assemble a quilt to present to their new home’s governor when they arrive. In a series of temporal jumps to and from the past, the near past, and the present of 1841, Kezia’s life and the lives of the convicts—some of whom have known nothing but poverty and degradation, some grieving for the families they had to leave behind, a few who were allowed to bring their children with them—are stitched together. When Hattie Matthews is stabbed, Kezia helps the captain, the parson, and the doctor interview the seven witnesses to the event. Some of them recall Hattie’s fear that she was being watched, others the swatch of fabric in which was embroidered a warning for Hattie to keep silent. What none of the investigators know is that one of the convicts is an imposter who stole the identity of another prisoner in a desperate attempt to escape the gallows. Her fear that someone onboard may recognize her makes her the obvious suspect in what might well yet be a murder—and forces her to turn to the one person who could be her undoing.

A historical episode artfully adapted in a bleak tale that offers glimmers of hope for women discarded by society.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-09957-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Not for the squeamish but a jolt for thriller junkies.

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The 10th installment in the Gray Man series begins with a dent in the hero’s armor and revs up with nonstop action.

Court Gentry, aka the Gray Man, is recovering from a stab wound, and he really needs to get some rest. He’s tired and badly weakened, not yet fit for operational duty, but the CIA’s off-the-books contract killer is “wholly unaccustomed to free time.” Soon he’s in Caracas, trying to spring his comrade in arms Zack Hightower from a Venezuelan prison. Then he’s off to Germany to deal with a possible coordinated attack on Americans in Berlin. Gentry, whose CIA code name is Violator, is that rare killer with a heart, so he takes only “righteous and worthy” assignments and does them right. His CIA boss congratulates him on one assassination, saying “You put a warhead on his forehead.” Gentry’s in love with Zoya Zakharova, a field operative also working for the CIA, but gunning down bad guys keeps both too busy for a meaningful relationship. Meanwhile, a sultan in the United Arab Emirates can hardly wait for his father to die of cancer, and an Iranian Quds sleeper agent plots mayhem in Berlin. Evildoers abound in this bloody thriller, including Americans. But the star of the scum is Maksim Akulov, who works for the Russian Mafia and whose target is Zakharova. Think of Akulov as the Gray Man without the moral compass. The title aptly fits the plot, as the hero scarcely takes a breather. There’s enough bloodshed to pour into two thrillers, and author Greaney doesn’t spare the good guys. Gentry’s body is “racked with pain and exhaustion” much of the time, but he is relentless. And Zack gets more than scratched while he thinks that “fighting a robot attack would be one badass way to go.”

Not for the squeamish but a jolt for thriller junkies.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-09895-0

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Engaging and deftly paced, another thoughtfully entertaining summer read from Silva.

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A legendary spy takes a vacation—or tries to, anyway—in Silva’s 20th Gabriel Allon novel.

Gabriel is trying to enjoy some rest and relaxation with his family in Venice when he learns that an old friend has died. As it happens, this old friend was Pope Paul VII, and it’s not long before Allon is summoned by the pontiff’s personal secretary. Archbishop Luigi Donati has reason to believe that the Holy Father did not die a natural death. For each of the past several summers, Silva has delivered a thriller that seems to be ripped from the headlines. This latest book feels, at first, like something of a throwback. Palace intrigue at the Vatican might seem quaint compared to Islamist extremism or Russia’s rise as an international influence, but Silva makes it relevant and compelling. Allon discovers that the most likely culprits in the death of the pope are connected to far-right leaders throughout Europe, and the rediscovery of a lost Gospel sheds new light on Christian anti-Semitism. The villains here are Catholic traditionalists—Silva’s imaginary Paul VII looks a lot like the real-life Francis I—and “populist” politicians who appeal to nativist, anti-globalist sympathies. As Silva looks at European contempt for a new wave of immigrants from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, he finds a model for this xenophobia in ancient hatred of the Jewish people, an antipathy that has its roots in the New Testament. He interjects a few Bible studies lessons and offers a bit of history as background; these passages add depth without impeding the forward momentum of the plot. Readers familiar with this series may notice the evolution of a motif introduced a few novels ago: In the world of Gabriel Allon, the United States has receded from relevance on the world stage.

Engaging and deftly paced, another thoughtfully entertaining summer read from Silva.

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-283484-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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