An overly complex tale that will elicit thrills and bewilderment in equal measure.

EMERGENCY POWERS

In the third installment of McCrone’s thriller series, an FBI agent struggles to foil a plot to commandeer the executive branch of the United States government.

In 2017, Special Agent Imogen Trager hears a press announcement that’s shocking but also predictable, given the massive political conspiracy that she thwarted in McCrone’s previous book, Faithless Elector (2016). President Diane Redmond has suddenly died, and in advance of an autopsy, the official line is that the cause was a heart attack. But Imogen and her boyfriend (and former college professor) Duncan Calder immediately suspect foul play. With his help, she was able to expose a vast scheme to rig a presidential election—one that ultimately resulted in the deaths of members of the Electoral College, among others. Now there aren’t many substantive leads for Imogen to follow, but there is one man that she knows is somehow involved—Frank Reed, who’s shadily connected to several fundraising political-action committees. He’s on the run from his co-conspirators and may be willing to help in exchange for protection. At the end of this exasperatingly complex plot, which even the narration concedes is a “Byzantine tangle,” is a mysterious villain known as the “Postman,” a nefarious businessman with an “ultimate vision” to establish a “nation ruled by kleptocrats, a democracy in name only.” In this latest series entry, Imogen remains a memorable protagonist—a “bookish” and “formal” intellectual who’s as tough as she is smart. In addition, the book has a highly cinematic quality to it, with plenty of action along the way. However, it’s tediously convoluted and breathlessly melodramatic, and readers will likely find that it doesn’t work very well as a stand-alone, apart from its predecessors. Readers will never be bored, but they may often find themselves lost—or in need of a spreadsheet to keep the deluge of details straight.

An overly complex tale that will elicit thrills and bewilderment in equal measure.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 299

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

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Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

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LATER

Horrormeister King follows a boy’s journey from childhood to adolescence among the dead—and their even creepier living counterparts.

Jamie Conklin sees dead people. Not for very long—they fade away after a week or so—but during that time he can talk to them, ask them questions, and compel them to answer truthfully. His uncanny gift at first seems utterly unrelated to his mother Tia’s work as a literary agent, but the links become disturbingly clear when her star client, Regis Thomas, dies shortly after starting work on the newest entry in his bestselling Roanoke Saga, and Tia and her lover, NYPD Detective Liz Dutton, drive Jamie out to Cobblestone Cottage to encourage the late author to dictate an outline of his latest page-turner so that Tia, who’s fallen on hard times, can write it in his name instead of returning his advance and her cut. Now that she’s seen what Jamie can do, Liz takes it on herself to arrange an interview in which Jamie will ask Kenneth Therriault, a serial bomber who’s just killed himself, where he’s stowed his latest explosive device before it can explode posthumously. His post-mortem encounter with Therriault exacts a high price on Jamie, who now finds himself more haunted than ever, though he never gives up on the everyday experiences in which King roots all his nightmares.

Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7890-9649-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Hard Case Crime

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Densely plotted and replete with incident if you can overlook the insufferable narrator.

WIN

Memo to fans who’ve longed for Windsor Horne Lockwood III, the moneyed, omnicompetent buddy of sports agent Myron Bolitar, to snag a starring role of his own: Beware what you wish for.

Nothing would connect privileged Win with the murder of the reclusive tenant of an exclusive Upper West Side building if the police hadn’t found a painting inside Ry Strauss’ apartment—a Vermeer belonging to Win’s family that was stolen long ago while on loan to Haverford College—along with a monogrammed suitcase belonging to Win himself. The two discoveries tie Win not only to the murder, but to the Jane Street Six, a group of student activists Strauss led even longer ago. The Six’s most notoriously subversive action, the bombing of an empty building in 1973, left several innocents accidentally dead and the law determined to track down the perps. But except for Vanessa Hogan, whom Billy Rowan tearfully visited soon after the bombing to beg her forgiveness for his role in bringing about the death of her son, no one’s seen hide nor hair of the Six ever since. The roots of the outrage go even deeper for Win, whose uncle, Aldrich Powers Lockwood, was killed and whose cousin, Patricia, to whom he’d given that suitcase, was one of 10 women kidnapped, imprisoned, and raped in an unsolved crime. These meaty complications are duly unfolded, and gobs of cash thrown at them, by the ludicrously preening, self-infatuated Win, who announces, “It’s good to be me,” and “I can be charming when I want to be.” As if.

Densely plotted and replete with incident if you can overlook the insufferable narrator.

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4821-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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