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Sure to be a hit with Higgins' fans, and a fast first read for newcomers to the work of this action-adventure writer.

Higgins (The Wolf at the Door, 2010, etc.) pits the Taliban and al-Qaeda against the British prime minister's "private hit squad," led by the redoubtable Gen. Charles Ferguson.

The action involves Ireland and England, with high-flying escapades into Pakistan and Algeria, but it all begins in Afghanistan with an intercepted radio transmission, one occurring during a firefight between the Taliban and NATO troops. Gen. Ferguson knows something wicked is afoot when one of the guerrilla commanders is heard speaking with an Irish accent and using the code name "Shamrock." Are British Muslims supporting the Taliban and al-Qaeda? Enter Sean Dillon, once an enforcer for the Provisional Irish Republican Army and now Gen. Ferguson's top anti-terrorist agent. With Dillon at the sharp end of the spear is Daniel Holley, also former IRA, but now a somewhat legitimate arms dealer with Algerian citizenship. They are aided by wounded Maj. Giles Roper, who mans the computers for the squad and plays a vital part in the search. There are assorted other good guys, including night club owners and part-time counter-agents Harry and Billy Salter, more than enough bad guys and traitors working both sides of the terror game. Also deeply enmeshed is Justin Talbot, a decorated British veteran of Afghanistan who now is de facto head of his family's influential multimillion-dollar corporation and who also dabbles in illicit arms trading. The most diabolical Judas is the Preacher, a respected British professor who has embraced Osama bin Laden and Islamic fundamentalism. Higgins' adventure is action-driven, with minimal character development, no romance and plenty of male bonding. Fans of the genre will appreciate the noisy occasions involving Semtex, AK-47s, silenced Colt .25s and villains coming to proper grief and swift justice.

Sure to be a hit with Higgins' fans, and a fast first read for newcomers to the work of this action-adventure writer.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15684-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2010

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

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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Suspenseful, frightening, and sometimes poignant—provided the reader has a generously willing suspension of disbelief.

A man walks out of a bar and his life becomes a kaleidoscope of altered states in this science-fiction thriller.

Crouch opens on a family in a warm, resonant domestic moment with three well-developed characters. At home in Chicago’s Logan Square, Jason Dessen dices an onion while his wife, Daniela, sips wine and chats on the phone. Their son, Charlie, an appealing 15-year-old, sketches on a pad. Still, an undertone of regret hovers over the couple, a preoccupation with roads not taken, a theme the book will literally explore, in multifarious ways. To start, both Jason and Daniela abandoned careers that might have soared, Jason as a physicist, Daniela as an artist. When Charlie was born, he suffered a major illness. Jason was forced to abandon promising research to teach undergraduates at a small college. Daniela turned from having gallery shows to teaching private art lessons to middle school students. On this bracing October evening, Jason visits a local bar to pay homage to Ryan Holder, a former college roommate who just received a major award for his work in neuroscience, an honor that rankles Jason, who, Ryan says, gave up on his career. Smarting from the comment, Jason suffers “a sucker punch” as he heads home that leaves him “standing on the precipice.” From behind Jason, a man with a “ghost white” face, “red, pursed lips," and "horrifying eyes” points a gun at Jason and forces him to drive an SUV, following preset navigational directions. At their destination, the abductor forces Jason to strip naked, beats him, then leads him into a vast, abandoned power plant. Here, Jason meets men and women who insist they want to help him. Attempting to escape, Jason opens a door that leads him into a series of dark, strange, yet eerily familiar encounters that sometimes strain credibility, especially in the tale's final moments.

Suspenseful, frightening, and sometimes poignant—provided the reader has a generously willing suspension of disbelief.

Pub Date: July 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-90422-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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