by Leon Wilson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 30, 2020
Entertaining escapism with old school military heroics.
Awards & Accolades
A Delta Force team leader gets unexpected help on an off-the-books mission from a feral dog.
Wilson’s ambitious debut novel blends two popular genres that would seem to be at odds: the last mission adventure and the man and his dog story. Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris might kick themselves that Jackson Wade hadn’t been created for them in their 1980s action movie heyday. A “living legend” as a college wrestler who later hardened his skills in Bangkok mixed martial arts cage matches, Wade forged a new patriotic path by enlisting in the Army following the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan. As a Delta Force golden boy, he became “the king of getting results” while developing a badass reputation (when a psychiatrist asks how he sleeps after killing a man, Wade responds, “On my right side”). Is he a rule bender? “Sometimes…if it means accomplishing our mission,” he proclaims. Rule-breaking is what it will take when he and his Team Echo colleagues are recruited for a mission to take out a Taliban cell along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. By the time he is told confidentially, “You won’t like this operation, but the brass wants it done,” readers will be all in, especially when he develops a seemingly psychic bond and life-changing friendship with a de Kochyano spay, which translates to “dog of the nomads.” Wilson, a retired Air Force brigadier general, deftly brings his military knowledge and experience to bear in this series opener. He has a vivid sense of place, from a Bangkok backwater warehouse where fight crowds “smoked Marlboro cigarettes, guzzled Singha beer, and popped yaa baa, a mixture of methamphetamine and caffeine,” to a Taliban village complex in Pakistan. He writes great action set pieces and has a good ear for military banter. A glossary of military acronyms would have been helpful, but that’s what Google is for.Entertaining escapism with old school military heroics.
Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2020
Page Count: 438
Review Posted Online: April 14, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Stephen King ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 5, 2023
Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.
A much-beloved author gives a favorite recurring character her own novel.
Holly Gibney made her first appearance in print with a small role in Mr. Mercedes (2014). She played a larger role in The Outsider (2018). And she was the central character in If It Bleeds, a novella in the 2020 collection of the same name. King has said that the character “stole his heart.” Readers adore her, too. One way to look at this book is as several hundred pages of fan service. King offers a lot of callbacks to these earlier works that are undoubtedly a treat for his most loyal devotees. That these easter eggs are meaningless and even befuddling to new readers might make sense in terms of costs and benefits. King isn’t exactly an author desperate to grow his audience; pleasing the people who keep him at the top of the bestseller lists is probably a smart strategy, and this writer achieved the kind of status that whatever he writes is going to be published. Having said all that, it’s possible that even his hardcore fans might find this story a bit slow. There are also issues in terms of style. Much of the language King uses and the cultural references he drops feel a bit creaky. The word slacks occurs with distracting frequency. King uses the phrase keeping it on the down-low in a way that suggests he probably doesn’t understand how this phrase is currently used—and has been used for quite a while. But the biggest problem is that this narrative is framed as a mystery without delivering the pleasures of a mystery. The reader knows who the bad guys are from the start. This can be an effective storytelling device, but in this case, waiting for the private investigator heroine to get to where the reader is at the beginning of the story feels interminable.Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.
Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023
Page Count: 464
Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023
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SEEN & HEARD
by Michael Connelly ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 7, 2023
The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.
Harry Bosch and the Lincoln Lawyer team up to exonerate a woman who’s already served five years for killing her ex-husband.
The evidence against Lucinda Sanz was so overwhelming that she followed the advice of Frank Silver, the B-grade attorney who’d elbowed his way onto her defense, and pleaded no contest to manslaughter to avoid a life sentence for shooting Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Roberto Sanz in the back as he stalked out of her yard after their latest argument. But now that her son, Eric, is 13, old enough to get recruited by local gangs, she wants to be out of stir and at his side. So she writes to Mickey Haller, who asks his half-brother for help. After all his years working for the LAPD, Bosch is adamant about not working for a criminal defendant, even though Haller’s already taken him on as an associate so that he can get access to private health insurance and a UCLA medical trial for an experimental cancer treatment. But the habeas corpus hearing Haller’s aiming for isn’t, strictly speaking, a criminal defense proceeding, and even a cursory examination of the forensic evidence raises Bosch’s hackles. Bolstered by Bosch’s discoveries and a state-of-the-art digital reconstruction of the shooting, Haller heads to court to face Assistant Attorney General Hayden Morris, who has a few tricks up his own sleeve. The endlessly resourceful courtroom back-and-forth is furious in its intensity, although Haller eventually upstages Bosch, Morris, and everyone else in sight. What really stands out here, however, is that Connelly never lets you forget, from his title onward, the life-or-death issues behind every move in the game.The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.
Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023
Page Count: 400
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023
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