Hood has the foundation for an action-adventure series, with a shoot-first hero in the style of Child's Jack Reacher,...

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CLEAR BY FIRE

In Hood’s debut action adventure, it’s tough to cheer for a hard-case hero who tortures with gasoline and a Zippo, but then special-ops warrior Mason Kane had good reason.

Before he flicked the lighter, Kane knew Decklin wanted him dead. Both were members of the off-the-books Anvil Program, doing dirty jobs in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other Middle East hot spots. Then Anvil’s leader, Col. Barnes, wiped out an innocent Afghan family that refused to give him information about a Taliban network. Kane didn’t participate; Barnes despised his disloyalty. Later, during a Libyan Anvil mission, Barnes ordered Decklin to kill Kane. Kane escaped, allowing Barnes to blame the newly discovered Afghan massacre on him, turning Kane into a shoot-on-sight fugitive. Kane’s going rogue also meant distraction from another plan by Barnes’ boss, the president’s national security adviser, Cage. That’s Operation Lion, a nerve gas attack in Damascus to inflame tensions and draw America into an all-out war. The book’s all action and ambush, with Kane fighting in streets, casbahs, and secret unidentified CIA bases from North Africa to Afghanistan. Character development is the first casualty. Kane’s a can’t-be-killed soldier equipped with the standard ex-wife who couldn’t stand the strain. His closest friend is Zeus, a Libyan operative, but any cinematic-style buddy-buddy banter falls flat. Then there’s the meet-not-so-cute between Renee and Kane. Renee’s a pretty (and deadly) woman–turned–special-operator leader of Task Force 111, "the tip of the spear when it came to tracking high-value targets." Renee has Kane speculating maybe "both had found something in each other they had been missing."

Hood has the foundation for an action-adventure series, with a shoot-first hero in the style of Child's Jack Reacher, Hunter's Bob Lee Swagger, or DeMille's John Corey.

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5011-0571-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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