Faith-based speculative fiction fans should enjoy this tale of an angel vigilante’s glorious journey.


This debut novel—and series opener—is a blend of Christian mythology, crime drama, and arcane thriller that follows two detectives as they attempt to track down a seemingly unstoppable killer.

Ian Jelani and his partner, Lane Madigan, are Miami police detectives tasked with finding a murderer who has been ritualistically butchering criminals—drug dealers, porn peddlers, terrorists. As the two investigate the elusive executioner, they discover similar homicides across the country. The “Holy Terror,” as the media have dubbed the killer, only targets hardcore criminals. Unbeknown to the two detectives, the entity behind the gruesome murders is an angel named Thumos, Yahweh’s right hand of justice whose flaming sword of vengeance has dispatched those who do evil against Yahweh’s children for millennia. But the recent killings have not been ordained by God—and Thumos is in danger of losing his soul to darkness. As Thumos struggles with his own spiritual demons, so do Jelani and Madigan, both dealing with their own issues with accepting God’s will. Fueled by Christian beliefs—relevant biblical verses and Christian doctrine abound—this tale about the spiritual awakenings of all three characters is powerfully moving. (Christian readers will also undoubtedly enjoy the pop-culture references, like the Christian metal band Stryper.) The pacing is brisk, and Dougherty’s narrative reads like a thriller, high intensity throughout with action-packed scenes from beginning to end. The big criticism here is the wild inconsistency in descriptions of both the setting and characters. Thumos, for example, is richly portrayed: He “shook his head, and his once long, flowing white hair floated away as multiple horns began to now appear out of his head. His once human-like ears stretched into elongated leathery appendages. His mouth expanded outward, creating almost a snout, with long, white fangs.” Satan, on the other hand, is barely described at all, with the devil wearing a black robe and having “grotesque fingers” and “grotesque appendages.”

Faith-based speculative fiction fans should enjoy this tale of an angel vigilante’s glorious journey.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2022

ISBN: 9781667861081

Page Count: 298

Publisher: Book Baby

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2022

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A tense history-based thriller filled with anguish and suspense.


A poignant story of courage, misogyny, and misused power.

In 1947, Elinor White lives in a village in Kent in a grace-and-favor house, rewarded for her service to the crown, and keeps her own counsel. A farmworkers's cottage nearby is home to the Mackie family: Jim, Rose, and little Susie, who befriends the wary Elinor. Jim comes from a family of notorious London gangsters, and when they want him to return to the fold, they'll resort to violence to convince him. In interspersed chapters we learn about the background that Elinor keeps to herself: She was a spy during both world wars. Back in 1914, in Belgium, 10-year-old Elinor, youngest daughter of a Belgian father and English mother, tries to catch a boat to England along with her mother and sister, Cecily, before the German advance, but they're too late and return to their home, now under occupation. Some time later, a mysterious woman named Isabelle approaches their mother and recruits the two girls to spy on the Germans. It's easy for schoolgirls to appear innocuous as they count the number of trains that pass by their village. The sisters are trained in sabotage and self-defense. Elinor is a natural, but Cecily is not, and when Elinor kills two German soldiers trying to rape her sister, Isabelle smuggles them out to England—where Elinor faces another war, decades later, by working with the Special Operations Executive and returning to Belgium. Now she hopes her contacts from those days will save Jim from the clutches of the Mackie family. Her wartime experiences come back to haunt her, leaving her unable to trust anyone. In the end, it’s the gangsters who tell her the truth that will shatter her world and give her hope for the future.

A tense history-based thriller filled with anguish and suspense.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780062867988

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023

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Enjoyable storytelling by two masters of the craft.


Lindsay Boxer faces a ton of trouble in the latest entry in Patterson and Paetro’s Women’s Murder Club series.

Senior crime reporter Cindy Thomas is writing a biography of Evan Burke, a notorious serial killer who sits in solitary confinement in San Quentin. She’s kidnapped by thugs wanting her to talk about her best friend, Lindsay Boxer, who’s an SFPD homicide detective and the story’s main character. San Francisco has a restrictive new gun law, and gun-totin’ folks everywhere have their boxer shorts in a twist. A national resistance movement has formed—Defenders of the Second—whose motto is “We will not comply.” They find it outrageous that the new law makes it illegal to own a gun that can kill 50 people with a single clip. Meanwhile, lots of bodies show up: A young girl disappears and is later found dead in a ditch, and ex-cops are found dead with their lips stapled shut and “You talk, you die” written on their foreheads. An inmate is found hanged in prison. And “a massive but unspecified load of military-style weaponry was en route from Mexico to the City by the Bay.” In a “frustrating, multipronged case,” there’s a harrowing shootout memorialized in a video showing “twenty-two of the scariest seconds” of Boxer’s life. She’s an appealing series hero with loving family and friends, but she may arrive at a crossroads where she has “to choose between my work and [my] baby girl.” The formulaic story has unmemorable writing, but it’s entertaining and well told. You probably won’t have to worry about the main characters, who have thus far survived 21 adventures. Except for the little girl, you can expect people to get what they deserve. It's relatively mild as crime novels go, but the women characters are serious, strong, and admirable.

Enjoyable storytelling by two masters of the craft.

Pub Date: May 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-49937-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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