A credulity-straining thriller that could be a guilty pleasure for nondiscriminating genre fans.


A millennial worker at the Chicago Board of Trade is framed for murder in this conspiracy thriller.

Christian Roberts, 28, an aspiring broker, is working his way up the ladder as a phone clerk for a commodities firm. No sooner does he escape an inexplicable attempt on his life than he finds his billionaire boss and mentor murdered and himself the prime suspect. On the run, he fortuitously gets into a cab driven by a man whose son leads Strong and Associates, a covert squad of former members of the FBI, Secret Service, and the CIA. Think The A-Team crossed with Olivia Pope’s gladiators on the TV show Scandal. They’re “the best in the world,” says leader John Strong Jr., and they take Roberts into protective custody to solve the billionaire’s murder. The title of Force’s debut novel is woefully generic (it presumably refers to next year’s presidential race) for what’s essentially the origin story of how callow youth Roberts joins forces with Strong and Associates, setting the stage for a possible series. A sequel would benefit from a greater attention to detail. As a writer of thrillers, Force would do well to take his cue from Strong, who “never used five words when three would suffice.” The author subverts potentially potent action scenes, as when Roberts, fleeing for his life from the assassin, digresses to ruminate about the 1981 attempt on President Ronald Reagan’s life. Some readers may find two key players, clearly based on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, to be laughable. Here, the first African-American president is blackmailed with a videotape of a gay sex orgy featuring himself (“the worst possible nightmare for any sitting president,” the author notes). Meanwhile, Abigail Mason, the secretary of state and likely presidential candidate, seems to embody every negative Hillary Clinton stereotype. The story has a climactic revelation, however, that gets points for its sheer shock value.

A credulity-straining thriller that could be a guilty pleasure for nondiscriminating genre fans.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-61-562976-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Lone Star Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2015

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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