LIE DOWN WITH LIONS

Follett returns once again to his Eye of the Needle triangle-formula—a passionate woman is torn between two lovers who happen to be rival spies—and once again produces only a serviceable, contrived replica of his original blockbuster. This time the sensuous heroine is radical-chic English interpreter Jane Lambert, working in 1981 Paris when she fills in love with American writer Ellis Thaler—only to discover to her horror that he's really a CIA agent! Furious, Jane dumps sexy Ellis (who does truly love her), marrying instead handsome young Dr. Jean-Pierre Debout—who takes her off to Afghanistan, where they'll both provide medical aid to a village of anti-Soviet rebels. Soon after giving birth (native-style) to baby Chantal, however, Jane secretly learns that Jean-Pierre is also an undercover spy. . .for the KGB! In fact, Jean-Pierre's mission—aside from betraying his rebel-comrades on a daily basis—is to set up rebel-leader Masud for KGB assassination. What's poor Jane to do? After all, she still loves J-P—sort of—even if he must be stopped from virtually murdering all their new Afghan friends. Then, of course, old flame Ellis appears: his mission is to arrange an alliance between Masud and the other Afghan-rebel factions—which he manages to do despite attempted sabotage by J-P, who deserts wife and child (temporarily, anyway) for total KGB involvement. So now, inevitably, there's a long, X-rated reunion for disllusioned Jane and lonely Ellis. And, after saving the village from a KGB assault (thanks to a scenic bridge-bombing), Ellis and Jane flee from Afghanistan together, baby in tow—pursued across treacherous mountain trails by KGB helicopters, Afghan back-stabbers, and the increasingly manic, cartoonishly evil Jean-Pierre. As in The Man from St. Petersburg, all the principal characters here must frequently act like idiots in order to keep Follett's synthetic plot-contraption clattering along: Jane's passionate flip-flops are nearly comic; Jean-Pierre's motivation for Communist fanaticism (the persecution of his leftwing father) is never convincing. The narration ranges from solid pulp to Harlequin pap. (The familiarity of Ellis' curly blond hair "tugged at her heartstrings.") Still, despite the creaky plot and pasteboard characterization, Follett does undeniably keep things moving—with medical crises, guerrilla skirmishes, and chase-ordeals galore. And the Afghan-village scenes are agreeably thickened with anthropological details. So this middling effort—less involving than Key to Rebecca, less outlandish than Man from St. Petersburg—is likely to do just as well as its uneven predecessors.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 1985

ISBN: 0451210468

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1985

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Another success for the publishing phenom.

UNDER CURRENTS

An abused boy fights back, escapes, then returns as an attorney to his beloved hometown, but just as he’s falling in love with a transplanted landscaper, a series of attacks from shadowy enemies jeopardizes their happiness.

“From the outside, the house in Lakeview Terrace looked perfect.” Which of course means that it wasn't. We're introduced to the horrifying Dr. Graham Bigelow, who beats his wife and, increasingly as the boy gets older, his son, Zane. On the night of Zane’s prom, a particularly savage attack puts him and his sister in the hospital, and his father blames Zane, landing him in jail. Then his sister stands up for him, enlisting the aid of their aunt, and everything changes, mainly due to Zane’s secret diaries. Nearly 20 years later, Zane leaves a successful career as a lawyer to return to Lakeview, where his aunt and sister live with their families, deciding to hang a shingle as a small-town lawyer. Then he meets Darby McCray, the landscaper who’s recently relocated and taken the town by storm, starting with the transformation of his family’s rental bungalows. The two are instantly intrigued by each other, but they move slowly into a relationship neither is looking for. Darby has a violent past of her own, so she is more than willing to take on the risk of antagonizing a boorish local family when she and Zane help an abused wife. Suddenly Zane and Darby face one attack after another, and even as they grow ever closer under the pressure, the dangers become more insidious. Roberts’ latest title feels a little long and the story is slightly cumbersome, but her greatest strength is in making the reader feel connected to her characters, so “unnecessary details” can also charm and engage.

Another success for the publishing phenom.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20709-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

OUTFOX

An FBI agent is determined to catch a man who bilks and murders wealthy women, but the chase goes slowly.

Brown (Tailspin, 2018, etc.) has published 70 bestsellers, and this one employs her usual template of thriller spiked with romance. Its main character, Drex Easton, is an FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer, but for him it’s personal. When he was a boy, his mother left him and his father for another man, Weston Graham. Drex believes Graham murdered her and that he has killed at least seven more women after emptying their bank accounts. Now he thinks he has the clever Graham—current alias Jasper Ford—in his sights, and he’s willing to put his career at risk to catch him. The women Ford targets are wealthy, and his new prey is no exception—except that, uncharacteristically, he has married her. Talia Ford proves to be a complication for Drex, who instantly falls in lust with her even though he’s not at all sure she isn’t her husband's accomplice. Posing as a would-be novelist, Drex moves into an apartment next door to the Fords’ posh home and tries to ingratiate himself, but tensions rise immediately—Jasper is suspicious, and Talia has mixed feelings about Drex's flirtatious behavior. When Talia’s fun-loving friend Elaine Conner turns up dead after a cruise on her yacht and Jasper disappears, Drex and Talia become allies. There are a few action sequences and fewer sex scenes, but the novel’s pace bogs down repeatedly in long, mundane conversations. Drex's two FBI agent sidekicks are more interesting characters than he is; Drex himself is such a caricature of a macho man, so heedless of ethics, and so aggressive toward women that it’s tough to see him as a good guy. Brown adds a couple of implausible twists at the very end that make him seem almost as untrustworthy as Graham.

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7219-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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