Tighten up this thriller and you’ve got a contender.

SLEEPING DOGS

THE AWAKENING

In this thriller, an inadvertent car accident involving a former CIA agent and a top-secret black ops agent believed to be dead starts a firestorm that has the CIA and FBI frantically searching for answers.

Through the accident investigation it’s revealed that Harold Case, the ex-CIA agent who was working as a consultant for Sen. Howard Morris, was carrying top-secret documents that detailed his history in a highly trained black ops team called Operation Sleeping Dogs—a squad made up of men who were no longer supposed to be alive. The papers were mined from the dark recesses of the CIA for the sole purpose of giving the senator ammunition to further an effort aimed at undermining the U.S.’s economic and political standing as part of a campaign with the potential to cripple capitalism and create a socialist society. Now the lines of good and evil have been blurred and sides must be chosen. A chance event has awakened the Dogs, the deadly killers who will do everything in their power to protect freedom. Falbey offers a bold, gritty spy thriller, but he has a tendency to overwrite content and dialogue, in addition to relying on telling instead of showing. The result is a convoluted plot often bogged down by minutiae and the unnecessary distraction of phonetically written character accents. At times, Falbey’s penchant for over-description conjures memories of Lawrence Sanders and his hero Edward X. Delaney: “Whelan had finished a large turkey and swiss sandwich on multigrain bread that has been prepared and served by Rhee, who had since withdrawn from the room. Whelan was nursing the second Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA.” Several scenes successfully play off the classic police-procedural tone and circumstance, as in the harried vibe during the desperate search for a lead, led by a token grizzled lawman who contemplates retirement as he takes another swig from his Mylanta.

Tighten up this thriller and you’ve got a contender.

Pub Date: June 16, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 512

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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