A satisfying, action-packed return to the world of the Red Hand and a daring trio.


Thieves of the Black Sea

From the Red Hand Adventures series , Vol. 4

In this fourth volume of an adventure series, a resourceful Moroccan orphan named Tariq and his loyal friends set out to return an ancient diary to its rightful home.

It’s 1914. Readers last saw intrepid cohorts Tariq, Fez, and Aseem stranded in the ocean after their hot air balloon crashed. Their friend Melbourne Jack died in the accident, but not before making Tariq promise to return a valuable artifact—Alexander the Great’s diary—to a circus in India led by Jack’s mentor, Foster Crowe. Fortunately, the boys are rescued by a band of sea Gypsies, led by the charming Capt. Scopas. Scopas desires revenge against Abdullah Ozek, an evil gangster in Constantinople, and asks the trio to help him. Along the way, the boys befriend a young woman named Pakize, a talented thief who steals to help her struggling neighborhood make ends meet, and discover that Ozek runs an illegal exotic animal trade. Meanwhile, English schoolgirl Margaret Owens sets out to rescue her classmate Inez from the German soldiers who captured her. Together, the girls must race through the Black Forest to France before the determined Maj. Lars Hostetler can catch them. And Foster follows the sinister Wu Chiang to Europe to stop him from using the power of the Red Hand Scrolls to start a world war. O’Neill (Legends of the Rif, 2015, etc.), an Ian Fleming for the middle-grade set, manages to smoothly jump among his groups of characters and their various escapades around the world—from Constantinople to Kathmandu, Bremen to Sarajevo—without leaving the reader confused about where each storyline left off. The narrative delivers rich cultural details, including vivid descriptions of delicious food and exotic locales (“Constantinople presented herself in full glory to the three boys. Her buildings were cast in a golden hue….On the hillside of the city, seven humongous and beautiful mosques, each with long and narrow towers called minarets, glowed in the morning sunshine”). Readers should feel as though they too are traversing the globe every time they fall back into this fast-paced tale. The pages will likely fly by far too quickly for the series’ loyal fans, who will be left waiting eagerly for the next installment. A warning: several moments of graphic violence might be too much for more squeamish young readers. 

A satisfying, action-packed return to the world of the Red Hand and a daring trio.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9905469-9-3

Page Count: 278

Publisher: Black Ship Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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Pub Date: March 31, 2000

ISBN: 0-06-028454-4

Page Count: 250

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1999

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One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.


A middle-aged woman sidelined by a horrific accident finds even sharper pains waiting on the other side of her recuperation in this expert nightmare by Hardy, familiar to many readers as Megan Hart, author of All the Secrets We Keep (2017), etc.

Five months ago, while she was on her way to the hospital with an ailing gallbladder, Diana Sparrow’s car hit a deer on a rural Pennsylvania road. When she awoke, she was minus her gallbladder, two working collarbones (and therefore two functioning arms), and her memory. During a recovery that would’ve been impossible without the constant ministrations of Harriett Richmond, the mother-in-law who’s the real reason Diana married her husband, Jonathan, Diana’s discovered that Jonathan has been cheating on her with her childhood friend Valerie Delagatti. Divorce is out of the question: Diana’s grown used to the pampered lifestyle the prenup she’d signed would snatch away from her. Every day is filled with torments. She slips and falls in a pool of wine on her kitchen floor she’s sure she didn’t spill herself. At the emergency room, her credit card and debit card are declined. She feels that she hates oppressively solicitous Harriett but has no idea why. Her sessions with her psychiatrist fail to heal her rage at her adoptive mother, an addict who abandoned her then returned only to disappear again and die an ugly death. Even worse, her attempts to recover her lost memory lead to an excruciatingly paced series of revelations. Val says Diana asked her to seduce Jonathan. Diana realizes that Cole, a fellow student in her watercolor class, isn’t the stranger she’d thought he was. Where can this maze of deceptions possibly end?

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64385-470-0

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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In this riveting futuristic novel, Spaz, a teenage boy with epilepsy, makes a dangerous journey in the company of an old man and a young boy. The old man, Ryter, one of the few people remaining who can read and write, has dedicated his life to recording stories. Ryter feels a kinship with Spaz, who unlike his contemporaries has a strong memory; because of his epilepsy, Spaz cannot use the mind probes that deliver entertainment straight to the brain and rot it in the process. Nearly everyone around him uses probes to escape their life of ruin and poverty, the result of an earthquake that devastated the world decades earlier. Only the “proovs,” genetically improved people, have grass, trees, and blue skies in their aptly named Eden, inaccessible to the “normals” in the Urb. When Spaz sets out to reach his dying younger sister, he and his companions must cross three treacherous zones ruled by powerful bosses. Moving from one peril to the next, they survive only with help from a proov woman. Enriched by Ryter’s allusions to nearly lost literature and full of intriguing, invented slang, the skillful writing paints two pictures of what the world could look like in the future—the burned-out Urb and the pristine Eden—then shows the limits and strengths of each. Philbrick, author of Freak the Mighty (1993) has again created a compelling set of characters that engage the reader with their courage and kindness in a painful world that offers hope, if no happy endings. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-439-08758-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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