Neville’s latest thriller (The Clown House, 2012, etc.) finds lawyer and investment banker Tom Madison under suspicion by the FBI when he tries to help a friend suspected of murder.
When Madison receives a voicemail from Kim Blumenthal, an official at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, saying that one of his law firm’s clients is in trouble, he hops right on a plane. But once in New York, he’s surprised to find that Kim is now missing—and even more surprised to receive a strange call from his old friend Hyrum Cobb, a Native American who runs the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. Hyrum’s messages,in a code that only Tom can decipher, say that Kim’s been killed; so has Dale Davis, of the Department of the Treasury, who’d been involved in a blackmail scheme involving the $3.2 billion Cobell Indian settlement. It turns out that the FBI had been monitoring Kim and Dale and had recorded them mentioning Hyrum’s name, so Hyrum went into hiding. Tom teams up with his ex-wife (and Hyrum’s niece), Magena Brown, to track Hyrum down and recover a missing memory card from Dale’s cellphone that could contain crucial evidence. Meanwhile, FBI agent Libby Villalobos is desperate to close the case, as she was the assassin and now needs a patsy to take the blame. Although the murderer’s identity is quickly revealed, the novel is still jam-packed with action, as Hyrum directs Tom and Magena to a mysterious flash drive; later, the identity of the “mentor” who gave Libby her murderous assignment is revealed. The plot is easy to follow, thanks to its unambiguous heroes and villains, whose intentions are always clear. Some plot points, though, are unnecessarily convoluted; cracking the password-protected flash drive, for example, is far too complicated, entailing almost 12 pages of Tom and Magena discussing symbols. That said, Neville doesn’t allow many moments to linger for very long, and he maintains an impressively fast tempo by bouncing back and forth between scenes, such as Tom and Magena working out Hyrum’s perplexing voicemail while Libby is bound and gagged in a bathtub.
An engaging story with scrupulously detailed characters and a swift pace that will leave readers reeling.
A highly organized, informative discussion of the immigration system in the United States.
In this politically charged environment, Afrasiabi manages to broach the volatile issue of immigration in a well-rounded, surprisingly effective framework that combines case studies, historical research, statistical analysis and personal anecdotes to detail the current issues and propose solutions. Invocations of Kafka, “The Twilight Zone” and “Alice in Wonderland” prove warranted as illustrations of the often surreal circumstances that confront immigrants facing deportation. Immigrants usually lack access to quality legal representation, while their situation can be made doubly difficult due to language barriers and significant cultural differences. Afrasiabi incorporates his work with colleagues and students at the Chapman University School of Law to deftly weave together the facts of several compelling cases and their underlying legal issues, with a genuine sense of suspense as readers wonder if justice will be truly be served. Occasionally, though, the narrative becomes overwrought—two federal laws passed in 1996 are “dark storm clouds depositing their sleet”—although, considering the life-changing effects of court decisions, it’s difficult to overstate the ramifications: extralegal rendition of individuals with pending cases and the de facto deportation of native-born children whose parents are deported. Afrasiabi also addresses the legacy of various anti-alien laws in California, as well as marriage equality for same-sex couples when one partner is a noncitizen. As the subtitle asserts, Afrasiabi employs his additional experience in the field of property law to contrast the stark differences between immigration judges and constitutional judges, like their qualifications, vetting processes and even the oaths they take. His arguments culminate in seven concrete reforms proposed in the conclusion. In order to make the immigration system more just and effective, Afrasiabi claims the solutions are closer than we may think; we can implement procedures and safeguards already in place within the constitutional courts.
A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.
Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.
Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.
Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.