Military fiction buffs will find much to savor in this dark novel, rife with chilling authenticity.

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PALESTINE

A veteran of the Israel Defense Forces incorporates his experiences into a brooding military battlefront saga set in wartime Israel.

Bloomfield’s dense, impressive debut opens with a rush of excitement as Bahaa, a soldier on Palestine’s Gaza Strip, flees from Zionist troops but is shot dead, leaving his secret love, an Islamic University history teacher, pregnant with his son. The brawny life of Bahaa’s offspring, christened Anid al-Husseini, forms the grainy crux of the novel, which revolves around an imagined nuclear war between Israel and Iran. As a teenager, joined by best friend Luty, Anid joins the Hamas Islamic resistance movement. Both receive commendations for their bravery and resolve in the face of mortal danger and these attributes carry the men through their college years until Anid is ordered into hiding, just as he becomes smitten with the beautiful Amjad. Meanwhile, young Maj. Gen. Yigal Navon, head of Israeli intelligence, braces for news that Iran has beefed up its nuclear arsenal of ballistic missiles aimed at Israel. A host of soldiers are called into active duty as civilians panic, and Anid’s resilience is tested while on the run through a succession of kidnappings, a ghost from his past and a reunion with Luty and Amjad. The Muslim army’s Operation Judgment Day is set in motion, ensuring the massacre of Jews throughout the region, but Luty seems conflicted about his intentions and puts Anid in danger as Navon, now prime minister, continues to navigate the strife with strategic projects. The author handles the rush and urgency of his war-torn setting well as a dizzying surfeit of surface characters emerge, each ushering along the two-sided battle plan that, while relentlessly violent and stark, is also engagingly complex. His imaginings about an Israelite uprising resonate with harrowing realness and the novel’s unique coda, however heavy-handed, offers postscripts and expansions of his story through pointed conjecture.

Military fiction buffs will find much to savor in this dark novel, rife with chilling authenticity.

Pub Date: June 30, 2011

ISBN: 978-0615418179

Page Count: 472

Publisher: Silver Lane

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

CROOKED RIVER

FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast finds evil afoot in his latest action-filled adventure (Verses for the Dead, 2018, etc.).

Imagine Florida beachcombers’ shock when they discover a shoe with a severed foot inside. Soon they see dozens more feet, all in identical shoes, bobbing toward the beach. Police and FBI ultimately count more than a hundred of them washing up on Sanibel and Captiva Islands' tranquil shores. Pendergast teams up with the junior Special Agent Armstrong Coldmoon to investigate this strange phenomenon. Oceanographers use a supercomputer to analyze Gulf currents and attempt to determine where the feet entered the ocean. Were they dumped off a ship or an island? Does each one represent a homicide? Analysts examine chemical residues and pollen, even the angle of each foot’s amputation, but the puzzle defies all explanation. Attention focuses on Cuba, where “something terrible was happening” in front of a coastal prison, and on China, the apparent source of the shoes. The clever plot is “a most baffling case indeed” for the brilliant Pendergast, but it’s the type of problem he thrives on. He’s hardly a stereotypical FBI agent, given for example his lemon-colored silk suit, his Panama hat, and his legendary insistence on working alone—until now. Pendergast rarely blinks—perhaps, someone surmises, he’s part reptile. But equally odd is Constance Greene, his “extraordinarily beautiful,” smart, and sarcastic young “ward” who has “eyes that had seen everything and, as a result, were surprised by nothing.” Coldmoon is more down to earth: part Lakota, part Italian, and “every inch a Fed.” Add in murderous drug dealers, an intrepid newspaper reporter, coyotes crossing the U.S.–Mexico border, and a pissed-off wannabe graphic novelist, and you have a thoroughly entertaining cast of characters. There is plenty of suspense, and the action gets bloody.

Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4725-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

ONE GOOD DEED

Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

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