A rousing, energetic drug tale sure to spark interest in this legal thriller series.

PATH TO REVENGE

In this sequel, a United States attorney and a task force pursue a murderous cartel leader in South America.

In his past dealings with the Baja Norte Familia, San Diego prosecutor Nick Drummond shot and killed the drug cartel’s lieutenant. But the deputy district attorney, believing Nick shot an unarmed man, brings a first-degree murder indictment against him. Nick is already assisting the U.S. Marshal’s office in linking cartel leader Javier Esquel-Ranchez to the murder of a deputy marshal. As Javier ties up “loose ends” related to the homicide, he also seeks vengeance, which includes putting a hit on Nick for the fatal shooting. In the meantime, Javier heads south, initially to Peru, to establish a way to transport cocaine to the United States. Nick and a task force are intent on capturing the cartel leader so he can face charges in America. They’ll have to track and ultimately confront Javier and his men in the Amazon jungle. But succeeding at trial may necessitate securing a witness: Raul Saladez-Montes, one of the hired guns in the deputy marshal’s homicide, who, after surviving the cartel’s assassination attempt, is on the hunt for Javier. As Dutton’s second installment is directly connected to the preceding novel, Path to Justice (2017), the book hits the ground running. All of the subplots and alternating narrative perspectives, particularly Nick’s and Javier’s, generate a brisk, steady pace. Action takes precedence over the legal battles, and readers unfortunately see very little of Nick inside a courtroom. Nevertheless, the story delivers surprisingly effective melodrama, like Nick, separated from his wife, becoming romantically involved with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Ana Schwartz. Similarly, there are tender moments featuring Javier and Elin Staarsgard, a zoology professor on sabbatical. This relationship makes Javier somewhat sympathetic, even though readers know without a doubt that he’s a malicious criminal.

A rousing, energetic drug tale sure to spark interest in this legal thriller series.

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-951559-01-4

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Lettra Press LLC

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

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Well-drawn characters introduce the criminal underworld to the occult kind in a breathless and compelling plot.

HELL BENT

From the Alex Stern series , Vol. 2

A Yale sophomore fights for her life as she balances academics with supernatural extracurriculars in this smart fantasy thriller, the second in a series.

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is a member of Lethe House, the ninth of Yale’s secret societies. And not just any member—she’s Virgil, the officer who conducts the society's rituals. In the world of Bardugo’s Alex Stern series, Yale’s secret societies command not just powerful social networks, but actual magic; it’s Lethe’s job to keep that magic in control. Alex is new to the role. She had to take over in a hurry after the previous Virgil, Darlington, her mentor and love interest, disappeared in a cliffhanger at the end of the first book. He appears to be in hell, but is he stuck there for good? Alex and Pamela Dawes—Lethe’s Oculus, or archivist/administrator—have found a reference to a pathway called a Gauntlet that can open a portal to hell, but can they find the Gauntlet itself? And what about the four murderers the Gauntlet ritual requires? Meanwhile, Alex’s past as a small-time drug dealer is catching up with her, adding gritty street crime to the demonic white-collar evil the Yale crowd tends to prefer. The plot is relentless and clever, and the writing is vivid, intelligent, and funny at just the right moments, but best of all are the complex characters, such as the four murderers, each with a backstory that makes it possible for the reader to trust them to enter hell and have the strength to leave again. Like the first book, this one ends with a cliffhanger.

Well-drawn characters introduce the criminal underworld to the occult kind in a breathless and compelling plot.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-31310-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

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FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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