Grippando is equally skillful at ratcheting up the tension and plucking at your heartstrings. Only the ending, which...


Miami attorney Jack Swyteck battles to save an undocumented Salvadorian immigrant caught between the abusive husband she fled and the majesty of the U.S. government.

Barista Julia Rodriguez’s job at Café de Caribe ends the moment she emphatically rejects the advances of cafe manager Duncan McBride, who promptly dimes her out to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Only Julia’s heroism and quick thinking prevent her 14-year-old daughter, Beatriz, from being swept up along with her. Brought to Jack’s attention by her aunt, Cecelia Varga, and Jack’s grandmother, Beatriz only wants to be reunited with her mother. But that’s one tall order, as Jack (A Death in Live Oak, 2018, etc.) quickly learns. Julia’s not eligible for asylum because she was charged with a felony back in El Salvador: aborting the baby who was the product of one of the many rapes she suffered at the hands of her husband, brutal gangster Jorge Rodriguez. Flexing his muscles in court, Jack gets Julia released from detention just in time for her to discover Duncan McBride’s corpse in her bathtub. Small wonder that Beatriz, faced with her mother’s reimprisonment, withdraws into a life-threatening case of resignation syndrome, leading to an ugly paradox: an immigration judge orders Julia released until Beatriz’s health improves, but as soon as it does, Julia’s detained again even though the price will be Beatriz’s relapse. Working with his old buddy Theo Knight, Jack makes two trips to El Salvador, but what he learns there just deepens his client’s peril, which turns on another paradox. There’s every indication that Jorge Rodriguez has followed Julia to the U.S., but his presence there, if he really is there, undermines her case for asylum, which depends on the argument that she’d face imminent danger back in El Salvador, even as it puts her in clear and present danger here and now.

Grippando is equally skillful at ratcheting up the tension and plucking at your heartstrings. Only the ending, which acknowledges just how intractable the plight of undocumented immigrants has become, is a letdown.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-265783-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once...


In Baldacci’s 19th (True Blue, 2009, etc.), boy and girl monster-hunters meet cute.

Evan Waller, aka Fadir Kuchin, aka “the Butcher of Kiev,” aka “the Ukrainian psychopath,” is one of those deep-dyed villains a certain kind of fiction can’t do without. Serving with distinction as part of the Soviet Union’s KGB, he joyfully and indiscriminately killed thousands. Now, many years later, posing as a successful businessman, he’s vacationing in Provence where, unbeknownst to him, two separate clandestine operations are being mounted by people who do not regard him with favor. Reggie Campion—28 and gorgeous—spearheads the first, an ad hoc group of monster-hunting vigilantes. Studly, tall Shaw (no first name supplied) is point guard for a rival team, shadowy enough to leave the matter of its origin ambiguous. While their respective teams reconnoiter and jockey for position, studly boy meets gorgeous girl. Monster-hunters are famous for having trust issues, but clearly these are drawn to each other in the time-honored Hollywood fashion. Shaw saves Reggie’s life. She returns the favor. The attraction deepens and heats up to the point where team-members on both sides grow unsettled by the loss of focus, singularly inopportune since, as monsters go, Waller rises to the second coming of Caligula—ample testimony furnished by a six-page, unsparingly detailed torture scene. In the end, the stalkers strike, bullets fly, screams curdle the blood, love has its innings and a monster does what a monster’s got to do.

The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once again show the stuff it’s made of.

Pub Date: April 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-446-56408-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Avon A/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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After a flight in fantasy with When the Wind Blows (1998), Patterson goes to ground with another slash-and-squirm psychokiller page-turner, this one dedicated to “the millions of Alex Cross readers, who so frequently ask, can’t you write faster?” By day, Geoffrey Shafer is a charming, 42-year-old British Embassy paper-pusher with a picture-perfect family and a shady past as an MI-6 secret agent. Come sundown, he swallows a pharmacy of psychoactive pills, gulps three black coffees loaded with sugar, and roams the streets of Washington, D.C., in a battered cab, where, disguised as a black man, he rolls dice to determine which among his black female fares he—ll murder. Afterwards he dumps his naked victims in crime-infested back alleys of black- slum neighborhoods, then sends e-mails boasting of his accomplishments to three other former MI-6 agents involved in a hellish Internet role-playing game. “I sensed I was at the start of another homicide mess,” sighs forensic-psychologist turned homicide-detective Alex Cross. Cross yearns to catch the “Jane Doe murderer” but is thwarted by Det. Chief George Pittman, who assigns sexy Det. Patsy Hampton to investigate Cross and come up with a reason for dismissing him. Meanwhile, Cross’s fiancÇe is kidnaped during a Bermuda vacation, and an anonymous e-mail warns him to back off. He doesn’t, of course, and just when it appears that Patterson is sleep-walking through his story, Cross nabs Shafer minutes after Shafer kills Det. Hampton. During the subsequent high-visibility trail, Shafer manages to make the jury believe that he’s innocent and that Cross was trying to frame him. When all seems lost, a sympathetic British intelligence chief offers to help Cross bring down Shafer, and the other homicidal game-players, during a showdown on the breezy beaches of Jamaica. Kinky mayhem, a cartoonish villain, regular glimpses of the kindly Cross caring for his loved ones, and an ending that spells a sequel: Patterson’s fans couldn’t ask for more.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-69328-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1999

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