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GOOD DEEDS GONE BAD

A JACKSON WADE AND DOG NOVEL

A thrilling amalgam of Clancy’s Jack Ryan and London’s White Fang set in the chaos of South Asia.

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Wilson continues the adventures of former Delta Force soldier-turned-mercenary Jackson “Jax” Wade and his giant Kuchi dog partner in this sequel to Dogs Bark and People Die(2020).

Fresh off a successful mission in Afghanistan with former Delta Force brother in arms Jesse Morris (they neutralized marauders attempting to disrupt a natural gas pipeline running through Afghanistan to India), Jackson Wade is contacted by his former employer, Damocles Security Services, at his home in Thailand with an urgent request. As American troops begin their withdrawal from Afghanistan, and as the Taliban rushes in to take over the country, the U.S. president’s niece, a human rights activist, is trapped in Taliban territory with two of her would-be rescuers, both female CIA operatives. With a potential political disaster looming, Wade (along with canine partner Dog) and Morris are tasked with the virtually impossible mission to extract the “package” and the two CIA agents from enemy territory that’s swarming with Taliban and Taliban sympathizers. As the body count rises, the mercenaries travel through a wasteland of inhuman horror and brutality. And as they inch closer to their destination, Morris asks a profound question that is very much a theme of the work: “Is Dog becoming more like us, or are we becoming more like Dog?”

There are numerous narrative elements that make this novel—and this series—simply unputdownable. The character development is exceptional; while the vast majority of military thrillers feature emotionally stunted, two-dimensional stereotypes, Wilson digs deep into not only Wade’s psyche, but also those of supporting female characters, including former U.S. Army captain Gretchen Sachs, the executive assistant to the head of Damocles; Carol Rossa, deputy CIA station chief in Kabul; and Sharon Beck, an analyst on the counterinsurgency desk in the CIA section of the American embassy in Kabul. The multilayered characterizations are complemented by adrenaline-fueled pacing and nonstop action that will keep readers breathlessly turning pages. Short chapters and frequent shifts of POV also help to maintain the fast and furious narrative momentum. Military fiction afficionados will appreciate the attention to detail when it comes to weaponry and tactical equipment: “Oakley Tombstone shooting glasses with gray-brown lenses covered their eyes, and each wore tan tactical shooting gloves. HK 416C carbines were near at hand, with 10.4-inch barrels, vertical foregrips, retractable stocks, Aimpoint CompM4 reflex sights, and inserted twenty rounds of .300 AAC Blackout cartridges.” Wilson’s frequent references to pop culture add an additional layer of interest and subtle humor—name-checks of Jean-Claude Van Damme, the Game of Thrones series, Mad Max, and Stephen King’s Cujo will have readers smiling to themselves. But the principal element that makes this series such a wildly unique military-thriller saga is the psychic connection between Wade and Dog. Their ability to “mind-talk” is fascinating in and of itself, but the way Wilson subtly ties it to arcane Afghani folklore—“some Kuchi dogs are magical”—makes the connection even more intriguing. One minor caveat: The story’s romance elements around Wade and Morris and their respective love interests come across as forced, inauthentic, and, frankly, unnecessary.

A thrilling amalgam of Clancy’s Jack Ryan and London’s White Fang set in the chaos of South Asia.

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9798876727947

Page Count: 376

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2024

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THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE

A weird, wild ride.

Celebrity scandal and a haunted lake drive the narrative in this bestselling author’s latest serving of subtly ironic suspense.

Sager’s debut, Final Girls (2017), was fun and beautifully crafted. His most recent novels—Home Before Dark (2020) and Survive the Night (2021) —have been fun and a bit rickety. His new novel fits that mold. Narrator Casey Fletcher grew up watching her mother dazzle audiences, and then she became an actor herself. While she never achieves the “America’s sweetheart” status her mother enjoyed, Casey makes a career out of bit parts in movies and on TV and meatier parts onstage. Then the death of her husband sends her into an alcoholic spiral that ends with her getting fired from a Broadway play. When paparazzi document her substance abuse, her mother exiles her to the family retreat in Vermont. Casey has a dry, droll perspective that persists until circumstances overwhelm her, and if you’re getting a Carrie Fisher vibe from Casey Fletcher, that is almost certainly not an accident. Once in Vermont, she passes the time drinking bourbon and watching the former supermodel and the tech mogul who live across the lake through a pair of binoculars. Casey befriends Katherine Royce after rescuing her when she almost drowns and soon concludes that all is not well in Katherine and Tom’s marriage. Then Katherine disappears….It would be unfair to say too much about what happens next, but creepy coincidences start piling up, and eventually, Casey has to face the possibility that maybe some of the eerie legends about Lake Greene might have some truth to them. Sager certainly delivers a lot of twists, and he ventures into what is, for him, new territory. Are there some things that don’t quite add up at the end? Maybe, but asking that question does nothing but spoil a highly entertaining read.

A weird, wild ride.

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-18319-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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HOME IS WHERE THE BODIES ARE

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

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Three siblings on very different paths learn that their family home may be haunted by secrets.

Eldest daughter Beth is alone with her fading mother as she takes her final breath and says something about Beth’s long-departed brother and sister, who may not have disappeared forever. Beth is still reeling from the loss of her mother when her estranged siblings show up. Michael, the youngest, hasn’t been home since their father’s disappearance seven years ago. In the meantime, he’s outgrown his siblings, trading his share of the family troubles for a high-paying job in San Jose. Nicole, the middle child, has been overpowered by addiction and prioritized tuning out reality over any sense of responsibility, much to Beth’s disgust. Though their mother’s death marks an ending for the family, it’s also a beginning, as the three siblings realize when they find a disturbing videotape among their parents’ belongings. The video, from 1999, sheds suspicion on their father’s disappearance, linking it to a long-unsolved neighborhood mystery. Was it just a series of unfortunate circumstances that broke the family apart, or does something more sinister underlie the sadness they’ve all found in life? In chapters that rotate among the family’s first-person narratives, the siblings take turns digging up stories and secrets in their search for solace.

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9798212182843

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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