An action-driven tale of heroes worth rooting for at the U.S.–Mexico border.

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A team of American Indian trackers faces off against a Mexican cartel that’s trafficking drugs and humans in Kaminski’s debut thriller.

Lakota Sioux Ethan Crowe has kept a low profile since the murders of his wife and son at the hands of a drug lord. But the former member of the U.S. Army’s elite Delta Force agrees to head a special team of trackers—among them Will Price, a Navajo; Isaac Factor, a Seminole; and Nalin Chee, an Apache—to fight cartels at the Mexican border. His main incentive is seeking justice after cartel’s assassination of a tribal police officer, the younger brother of a friend and fellow soldier of Crowe’s. The team, dubbed the Shadow Wolves, ultimately focuses on the Zetas, a drug cartel led by enigmatic Yaotl and with notorious sniper Romero as his “personal trigger finger.” But team members Nalin Chee and Hannah Lone Hawk track the Zetas and verify what they already suspected: The cartel is kidnapping women and children to sell as sex slaves. In confrontations and pursuits unfolding on both sides of the border, the Shadow Wolves aim to save lives and take down the Zetas. But knowing that Romero is the assassin who killed his friend’s brother, Crowe must decide if he wants to seek retribution. Kaminski aptly details the cast, whose American Indian characters originate from different tribes, including Apache, Seminole, Navajo, and Lakota, and have worked in varying professions. Shadow Wolf Isaac Factor, for example, had tracked drug smugglers for the Miami-Dade County Police while Hannah had been an agent for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. While racism is an unfortunate, perhaps expected burden Crowe and other American Indians endure, it’s often blatant in this book, which has numerous obviously prejudiced characters. Cartel villains, however, are violent and malicious, making it easy for readers to cheer the heroes during concisely drawn and tight action sequences. Despite implying that sequels will come, the ending is fulfilling even if more than one standout character sadly doesn’t make it.

An action-driven tale of heroes worth rooting for at the U.S.–Mexico border. (acknowledgements, author bio)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68456-623-5

Page Count: 334

Publisher: Page Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2020


Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.

A much-beloved author gives a favorite recurring character her own novel.

Holly Gibney made her first appearance in print with a small role in Mr. Mercedes (2014). She played a larger role in The Outsider (2018). And she was the central character in If It Bleeds, a novella in the 2020 collection of the same name. King has said that the character “stole his heart.” Readers adore her, too. One way to look at this book is as several hundred pages of fan service. King offers a lot of callbacks to these earlier works that are undoubtedly a treat for his most loyal devotees. That these easter eggs are meaningless and even befuddling to new readers might make sense in terms of costs and benefits. King isn’t exactly an author desperate to grow his audience; pleasing the people who keep him at the top of the bestseller lists is probably a smart strategy, and this writer achieved the kind of status that whatever he writes is going to be published. Having said all that, it’s possible that even his hardcore fans might find this story a bit slow. There are also issues in terms of style. Much of the language King uses and the cultural references he drops feel a bit creaky. The word slacks occurs with distracting frequency. King uses the phrase keeping it on the down-low in a way that suggests he probably doesn’t understand how this phrase is currently used—and has been used for quite a while. But the biggest problem is that this narrative is framed as a mystery without delivering the pleasures of a mystery. The reader knows who the bad guys are from the start. This can be an effective storytelling device, but in this case, waiting for the private investigator heroine to get to where the reader is at the beginning of the story feels interminable.

Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781668016138

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023


Lots of violent action with little payoff.

Jack Ryan Jr. is back to risk life and limb in saving a teenage girl from international killers while his father, U.S. President Jack Ryan Sr., figures out what to do with Iran’s clandestine uranium enrichment facility, hidden in a mine.

Junior, head of the secret intelligence outfit The Campus, which was functionally wiped out in Tom Clancy Flash Point (2023), is heading across Texas to a rendezvous with his fiancee, Lisanne Robertson, a one-armed former Marine and cop. He’s waylaid by the aftermath of a multi-vehicle accident that he discovers resulted from a gun attack that left a driver hanging on for life, and now puts Jack in the crosshairs of the gunmen. A tip leads him to a 4 a.m. meeting with Amanda, a single mom whose impetuous daughter, Bella, has run off with her highly undesirable boyfriend only to be abducted by the baddies. the nation’s capital, American surveillance has determined that Iran is on the cusp of nuclear armament. The only way to stop them is unleashing an unpiloted and untested super plane with massive destructive power. The book’s treatment of Iran’s “existential threat to the entire globe” as a subplot is rather curious, to say the least. You keep waiting for Bentley to connect the two stories, but that happens only superficially. Late in the book, we are told as an afterthought that Iran’s immediate threat had been “mitigated.” Unfortunately, there is no mitigation of the novel’s hackneyed prose—"The analytical portion of Jack’s brain couldn’t help but be impressed.”

Lots of violent action with little payoff.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9780593422816

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023

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