Entertaining escapism with old school military heroics.

DOGS BARK AND PEOPLE DIE

A JACKSON WADE AND DOG NOVEL

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

ISBN: 979-8-6052-0414-5

Page Count: 438

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

A smart summer escape.

PORTRAIT OF AN UNKNOWN WOMAN

Silva’s latest Gabriel Allon novel is a bit of a throwback—in the best possible way.

One-time assassin and legendary spymaster Gabriel Allon has finally retired. After saying farewell to his friends and colleagues in Israel, he moves with his wife, Chiara, and their two young children to a piano nobile overlooking Venice’s Grand Canal. His plan is to return to the workshop where he learned to restore paintings as an employee—but only after he spends several weeks recovering from the bullet wound that left him dead for several minutes in The Cellist (2021). Of course, no one expects Gabriel to entirely withdraw from the field, and, sure enough, a call from his friend and occasional asset Julian Isherwood sends him racing around the globe on the trail of art forgers who are willing to kill to protect their extremely lucrative enterprise. Silva provides plenty of thrills and, as usual, offers a glimpse into the lifestyles of the outrageously wealthy. In the early books in this series, it was Gabriel’s work as an art restorer that set him apart from other action heroes, and his return to that world is the most rewarding part of this installment. It is true that, at this point in his storied career, Gabriel has become a nearly mythic figure. And Silva is counting on a lot of love—and willing suspension of disbelief—when Gabriel whips up four old master canvases that fool the world’s leading art experts as a lure for the syndicate selling fake paintings. That said, as Silva explains in an author’s note, the art market is rife with secrecy, subterfuge, and wishful thinking, in no small part because it is almost entirely unregulated. And, if anyone can crank out a Titian, a Tintoretto, a Gentileschi, and a Veronese in a matter of days, it’s Gabriel Allon. The author’s longtime fans may breathe a sigh of relief that this entry is relatively free of politics and the pandemic is nowhere in sight.

A smart summer escape.

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-283485-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

Did you like this book?

A unique story of transcendent love.

LAYLA

An aimless young musician meets the girl of his dreams only to have his newfound happiness threatened by several inexplicable—and possibly supernatural—events.

The story opens as Leeds Gabriel meets with a detective while his girlfriend, Layla, is restrained in a room one flight above them. Through the interview, readers learn that Leeds was wasting both his time and his musical talent playing backup for a small-town wedding troupe called Garrett’s Band when he spied Layla dancing her heart out to their mediocre music at a wedding. When Leeds approaches Layla, their connection is both instant and intense. A blissful courtship follows, but then Leeds makes the mistake of posting a picture of himself with Layla on social media. A former girlfriend–turned-stalker wastes no time in finding and attacking Layla. Layla spends months recovering in a hospital, and it seems the girl Leeds fell for might be forever changed. Gone is her special spark, her quirkiness, and the connection that had entranced Leeds months before. In a last-ditch effort to save their relationship, he brings Layla back to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. When they get there, though, Leeds meets Willow, another guest, and finds himself drawn to her in spite of himself. As events unfold, it becomes clear that Willow will either be the key to saving Leeds’ relationship with Layla or the catalyst that finally extinguishes the last shreds of their epic romance. Told entirely from Leeds’ point of view, the author’s first foray into paranormal romance does not disappoint. Peppered with elements of mystery, psychological thriller, and contemporary romance, the novel explores questions about how quickly true love can develop, as well as the conflicts that can imperil even the strongest connections. Despite a limited cast of characters and very few setting changes, the narrative manages to remain both fast-paced and engaging. The conclusion leaves a few too many loose ends, but the chemistry between the characters and unexpected twists throughout make for a satisfying read.

A unique story of transcendent love.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0017-8

Page Count: 301

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

more