A scary, smart, sweet, sexy CIA tale.

Color of Blood

Returning to work after his wife’s death, a CIA investigator leaves on assignment for Australia, where he encounters danger, romance, and, unexpectedly, poetry.

As this thriller opens, CIA investigator Dennis Cunningham lies on the ground staring at the shoes of the person who betrayed and then shot him. The novel flashes back six months, when Cunningham returns to work after a lengthy bereavement leave. His boss asks him to soften his usual confrontational style and track down Geoffrey Garder, a junior agent who disappeared while working in Australia. What initially seems to Cunningham like a demeaning “Cub Scout assignment” becomes more intriguing when he arrives in Perth, in part because of his Australian Federal Police contact, recently divorced Agent Judy White. Cunningham is attracted to the Aussie with the shapely legs and upturned nose, and she is drawn to the gruff, blue-eyed Yank. As Cunningham learns more about Garder, such as his penchants for poetry and rare watches, the missing agent’s car is located in the Shark Bay area. It’s assumed he went snorkeling and became lunch for a great white. But when Cunningham discovers Garder’s belongings were covered in uranium, questions emerge. Believing the shark theory suspicious, Cunningham thinks the agent may still be alive. His investigation takes him home to the U.S., then to Switzerland, and finally back Down Under. Because Yocum (Daniel, 2015, etc.) has lived in Australia, descriptions of Perth and the surrounding area are vivid. While working the case, Cunningham discovers the beautiful colors of Australia—the green-blue waters, orange-red dust, and pink tufted birds—but he also encounters another hue, the color of blood. In an unrelated drug-deal case, White falls victim to violence but survives a searing torture scene. She and Cunningham learn that, aside from their jobs, they have several other things in common. For example, each has only one child, and both parent-child relationships enrich the book. The scenes of Cunningham and White helping each other on their cases are especially smart, and their romance feels genuine. Along with suspense related to their assignments and the possibility of being double-crossed, there’s tension over whether their extremely geographically challenged relationship can survive.  

A scary, smart, sweet, sexy CIA tale.

Pub Date: June 21, 2016


Page Count: 394

Publisher: Kindle Press

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.


Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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