An engaging, complex cyberthriller from a writer who knows the territory.

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AFTERSHOCK

The government and Silicon Valley unite to fend off a major cyberterrorism attack in this fast-paced thriller.

In an opening that recalls the neutralization of electric power in the sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), cyberterrorists have shut down highly secure networks in San Francisco, leaving panicked residents without electricity and communication systems. A group called New Tomorrow takes responsibility and threatens a worse attack if President Anston doesn’t announce the cancellation of the country’s missile-defense system during his upcoming State of the Union address. Orion Project, Homeland Security’s massive counterterrorism effort, failed to prevent the worm-driven takeover of the City by the Bay’s power grid. Anston and his team are “in trouble on three sides: the terrorists pushing from the front, the media ramping up the rhetoric…andthe public pushing for answers and action.” Enter Kirsten Lockhart, who prior to the attack had been plucked from Silicon Valley to work on Orion. Many involved in Orion are threatened by her drive, but nobody can debate her brains, creativity, and lithe body that moves with the alluring “smoothness of a cat.” Post-attack, Lockhart’s superiors—who know her psychological profile reads “Risk taker, lives on the edge”—think she might lead them to a software genius who has gone underground and may be a conduit to the terrorists. Lockhart’sformer romantic partner, Maj. Brett Logan, is assigned to shadow Lockhart, and a scheme to boomerang the terrorists’ plan back at them before the president’s address is developed. McFarlin’s 30 years in the tech industry give him the background to write knowingly about software successes and failures, and the timeliness of the warnings to safeguard code are chillingly spot-on in light of recent malware infiltrations on security systems for major retailers. The action moves quickly, and the characters are believably flawed, challenged and strong; however, there’s a surplus of characters, several of whom don’t advance the narrative. Readers might be better off keeping a “who’s who” list.

An engaging, complex cyberthriller from a writer who knows the territory.

Pub Date: March 5, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 470

Publisher: Darryl James Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2014

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An exuberant comic opera set to the music of life.

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DEACON KING KONG

The versatile and accomplished McBride (Five Carat Soul, 2017, etc.) returns with a dark urban farce crowded with misjudged signals, crippling sorrows, and unexpected epiphanies.

It's September 1969, just after Apollo 11 and Woodstock. In a season of such events, it’s just as improbable that in front of 16 witnesses occupying the crowded plaza of a Brooklyn housing project one afternoon, a hobbling, dyspeptic, and boozy old church deacon named Cuffy Jasper "Sportcoat" Lambkin should pull out a .45-caliber Luger pistol and shoot off an ear belonging to the neighborhood’s most dangerous drug dealer. The 19-year-old victim’s name is Deems Clemens, and Sportcoat had coached him to be “the best baseball player the projects had ever seen” before he became “a poison-selling murderous meathead.” Everybody in the project presumes that Sportcoat is now destined to violently join his late wife, Hettie, in the great beyond. But all kinds of seemingly disconnected people keep getting in destiny's way, whether it’s Sportcoat’s friend Pork Sausage or Potts, a world-weary but scrupulous white policeman who’s hoping to find Sportcoat fast enough to protect him from not only Deems’ vengeance, but the malevolent designs of neighborhood kingpin Butch Moon. All their destines are somehow intertwined with those of Thomas “The Elephant” Elefante, a powerful but lonely Mafia don who’s got one eye trained on the chaos set off by the shooting and another on a mysterious quest set in motion by a stranger from his crime-boss father’s past. There are also an assortment of salsa musicians, a gentle Nation of Islam convert named Soup, and even a tribe of voracious red ants that somehow immigrated to the neighborhood from Colombia and hung around for generations, all of which seems like too much stuff for any one book to handle. But as he's already shown in The Good Lord Bird (2013), McBride has a flair for fashioning comedy whose buoyant outrageousness barely conceals both a steely command of big and small narrative elements and a river-deep supply of humane intelligence.

An exuberant comic opera set to the music of life.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1672-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

THE RESCUE

High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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