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

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


Page Count: 299

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020


The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.

Harry Bosch and the Lincoln Lawyer team up to exonerate a woman who’s already served five years for killing her ex-husband.

The evidence against Lucinda Sanz was so overwhelming that she followed the advice of Frank Silver, the B-grade attorney who’d elbowed his way onto her defense, and pleaded no contest to manslaughter to avoid a life sentence for shooting Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Roberto Sanz in the back as he stalked out of her yard after their latest argument. But now that her son, Eric, is 13, old enough to get recruited by local gangs, she wants to be out of stir and at his side. So she writes to Mickey Haller, who asks his half-brother for help. After all his years working for the LAPD, Bosch is adamant about not working for a criminal defendant, even though Haller’s already taken him on as an associate so that he can get access to private health insurance and a UCLA medical trial for an experimental cancer treatment. But the habeas corpus hearing Haller’s aiming for isn’t, strictly speaking, a criminal defense proceeding, and even a cursory examination of the forensic evidence raises Bosch’s hackles. Bolstered by Bosch’s discoveries and a state-of-the-art digital reconstruction of the shooting, Haller heads to court to face Assistant Attorney General Hayden Morris, who has a few tricks up his own sleeve. The endlessly resourceful courtroom back-and-forth is furious in its intensity, although Haller eventually upstages Bosch, Morris, and everyone else in sight. What really stands out here, however, is that Connelly never lets you forget, from his title onward, the life-or-death issues behind every move in the game.

The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780316563765

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023


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

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