Readers should delight in the characters’ budding romance and the international locales.

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The Capizzi Madonna

The author’s debut adventure novel follows a woman’s global trek as she stumbles on romance, an inherited fortune and a scheme to steal a painting.

Canadian restaurant consultant Claudia flies to Geneva to pay respects to her late and much beloved uncle Renato. She’s happy to be included in the will, receiving the bulk of her uncle’s wealth, but she soon spots a blonde woman following her, and someone else ransacks Renato’s apartment, as well as her home back in Canada. It isn’t long before she’s accosted. Evidently, some dodgy individuals want her final gift from Renato—a painting that doesn’t seem to have much value. There are allusions to espionage in Levi Garlick’s book: Claudia’s friend and business partner, Suzy, makes a couple of James Bond references, and Claudia’s love interest, Michael, is a British MI5 agent. But the story dwells more on romance than investigating terrorists. In that regard, Michael’s charms and good looks are touted a bit excessively. It’s obvious well before he meets Claudia that they’ll become a couple. But Levi Garlick develops their relationship solidly. They don’t immediately hop into bed, and the British agent is steadfastly professional in keeping his new love safe, especially after their meeting on the street leads to a kidnapping and a hail of bullets. One of the novel’s most notable assets is the cultivation of Claudia’s paranoia; looted rooms are simply “weird,” but ultimately, she thinks people are trailing or watching her, and she’s often panicky when she wakes up alone. A palpable threat makes her paranoia reasonable: A man who’s eluded Interpol in nonextradition France easily finds her in other countries, including Italy and the U.K. A first-rate subplot—her uncle’s journal, set around World War II, reveals where Renato’s love of art may have originated—enhances the story, as does the occasional humor: Claudia’s pounding chicken while prepping for dinner sends Scotland Yard’s Gael scurrying into the room with gun drawn.

Readers should delight in the characters’ budding romance and the international locales.

Pub Date: April 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-1481966320

Page Count: 444

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2013

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Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

ONE GOOD DEED

Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

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Great storytelling about the pursuit of extrajudicial justice.

ONE MINUTE OUT

Ninth in the author’s Gray Man series (Mission Critical, 2019, etc.) in which “the most elite assassin in the world” has his hands full.

Ex–CIA Agent Courtland Gentry (the Gray Man) has Serbian war criminal Ratko Babic in his gun sight, but when he decides instead to kill the old beast face to face, he uncovers a massive sex-slavery ring. “I don’t get off on this,” the Gray Man lies to the reader as he stabs a sentry. “I only kill bad people.” Of course he does. If there weren’t an endless supply of them to slay, he’d have little reason to live. Now, countless young Eastern European women are being lured into sexual slavery and fed into an international pipeline, sold worldwide through “the Consortium.” Bad guys refer to their captives as products, not people. They are “merchandise,” but their plight haunts the Gray Man, so of course he is going to rescue as many women as he can. The road to their salvation will be paved with the dead as he enlists a team of fighters to strike the enemy, which includes a South African dude who is giddy for the chance to meet and kill the Gray Man. Meanwhile, Europol analyst Talyssa Corbu meets the hero while on a personal mission to rescue her sister. “You don’t seem like a psychopath,” she tells him. Indeed, though he could play one on TV. Corbu and her sister are tough and likable characters while the director of the Consortium leads a double life as family man and flesh merchant. Human trafficking is an enormous real-life problem, so it’s satisfying to witness our larger-than-life protagonist put his combat skills to good use. There will be a sequel, of course. As a friend tells the wounded Gentry at the end, he’ll be off killing bozos again before he knows it.

Great storytelling about the pursuit of extrajudicial justice.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09891-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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