A must-read if you want a glimpse of the turmoil Americans faced in Afghanistan or if you just want a page-flipping good...

READ REVIEW

THE VALLEY

From a first-time novelist, a military thriller packed with action and mystery.

The story begins and ends with relative quiet, but the reader hungry for action need not worry. Lt. Black is stationed at the relatively safe Forward Operating Base Omaha in Afghanistan when he gets randomly assigned a 15-6 investigation, “the commander’s initial inquiry into possible wrongdoing.” Apparently, an Afghan village chief in Nuristan complained that an American soldier accidentally killed a goat. Black’s job is to fly to Combat Outpost Vega “up the Valley” and speak to everyone, gather facts about the apparently minor case and report back to headquarters. Once Black arrives, most of the soldiers refuse to talk to him, and the NCOs are openly hostile and disrespectful. They are rough people in a rough place. There are many valleys in Nuristan “where people died hard deaths,” but “there was only one Valley….It was the farthest, the hardest, and the worst.” Surrounded by the lurking Taliban and aggrieved villagers all close by, the American soldiers (and readers) are guaranteed all the excitement they can handle. Never what it had seemed in the first place, the situation deteriorates rapidly. The combat scenes are intense, believable and frightening. The troops need to call for help, but will they get through? “Communication was life,” the narrator notes as the Americans try to fight off an attack, and “there was no pay phone in the Valley.” “What the hell,” one character asks, “is the end of the world?” Clearly, it’s the Valley in Nuristan. There are a few points of confusion in this fast-paced drama, but whether that’s in the telling, the reading or the fog of war, they detract little. 

A must-read if you want a glimpse of the turmoil Americans faced in Afghanistan or if you just want a page-flipping good yarn.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-525-95486-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Boasting one of the freshest and most unlikely duos to appear in crime fiction in some time, the latest thriller by...

THE DEAD STUDENT

Convinced that the shooting death of his psychiatrist uncle was murder—not a suicide, as ruled—a Miami Ph.D. student with a binge-drinking problem turns to his high school girlfriend to help him uncover the truth.

Timothy Warner, known as Moth, has long depended upon his Uncle Ed, who had drinking issues of his own, in times of crisis. He knew Ed well enough to know that he would never have shot himself, no matter how convinced the police are that he did. Not knowing whom else to call for help, he contacts his old flame Andrea Martine. Known as Andy Candy, she's in a fragile state herself, still recovering from an unprosecuted case of date rape and from having her heart broken by Moth. But though she's reluctant to see him again, her devotion slowly returns. With all their quirks and foibles, they make an unusually appealing team. When the narrative is taken over by the smugly self-admiring Student #5, a former student of Ed's who is stalking old professors he has grudges against, the book becomes more predictable. As devious as Student #5 is, he meets his match in Moth and Andy. "You're not a cop. You don't know anything about killing," Andy says to Moth early on. "I'm a fast learner," he replies.

Boasting one of the freshest and most unlikely duos to appear in crime fiction in some time, the latest thriller by Katzenbach (Red 1-2-3, 2013) is one of his most enjoyable.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2337-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Mysterious Press

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Economical and deliberately low-key, like all O’Nan’s work, but the complex moral issues it raises linger unsettlingly.

CITY OF SECRETS

The protean O’Nan (West of Sunset, 2015, etc.) assumes the mantle of Conrad and Greene in a probing, keening thriller set in Jerusalem just after World War II.

Brand, a Latvian Jew, lost his entire family in the Holocaust and is haunted by the passivity with which he watched fellow inmates tortured and killed in the camps. Determined not to be a victim again, he has come to Jerusalem and joined Haganah, one of several resistance groups determined to oust the British from Palestine and establish a Jewish state. Brand’s cover job is driving a taxi, and one of his tasks is to ferry fellow cell member Eva to assignations as a prostitute, through which she gathers information. In their off-hours the pair are lovers, which fills Brand with guilt for betraying his murdered wife. He’s not totally at ease, either, with his cell’s bombings and armed robberies, particularly when Haganah joins forces with the more violently radical Irgun “after calling them dissidents and terrorists and helping the British hunt them down.” The ironies echoing down to today’s Jerusalem are evident, although O’Nan stays meticulously within his 1945-6 framework. As soon as Brand starts taking Eva to the King David Hotel for repeated trysts, even readers unfamiliar with Middle Eastern history will sense that apocalyptic events are impending. When they arrive, in the novel’s grim climax, they make palpable the dilemma of O’Nan’s conflicted protagonist: “He wanted the revolution—like the world—to be innocent, when it had never been.” Though rigorously unsentimental, the text seethes with unresolved emotions, as when Brand celebrates a solitary Passover, missing Eva and pierced by memories of his dead parents and sister. He’s heartbreakingly lonely and appealingly ambivalent in a world where too many people are certain the righteousness of their cause justifies any action.

Economical and deliberately low-key, like all O’Nan’s work, but the complex moral issues it raises linger unsettlingly.

Pub Date: April 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-670-78596-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more