A novel lacking in story and conflict, acting more as a sounding board for anti-American sentiments and political ideals.



A wealthy Sheikh in Saudi Arabia devises a terrorist strategy to attack America internally and circumvent an open military confrontation in the author’s debut novel.

In objection to U.S. presence in the Middle East as well as the country’s abuse of power, Sheikh Saud formulates a strike similar to 9/11. He believes that a singular attack creating mass destruction would have the greatest reverberation. The Sheikh enlists the help of his friend/assistant Mr. Sultan and Russian scientists to produce a prion disease easily transmitted by contaminated insects, which he hopes to unleash upon American scientific and technological facilities and military sites. Regrettably, Abdelrahman seems more invested in his novel’s concept than the narrative. This seems especially true with Sheikh Saud, who the author gives very little background. Consequently, his opposition to America has no real basis and is further trivialized by his frequent contradictions. For example, he claims “no political ambitions” when his entire scheme is predicated on a political agenda. He is critical of U.S. propaganda, while praising the TV only if it “transmit[s] peaceful and informative program[s].” The Sheikh also condemns orchestrated acts of “disinformation” while freely admitting to brainwashing and lying to Sultan to support his plan. The story feels like it’s at a standstill as the Sheikh spends more time considering scenarios and potential obstacles—none of which he ever has to face—perpetually worried of a double-cross that never happens. The author provides some complexity when the Sheikh dreams of two jinn, or spirits with influence over humans, but one offers dubious advice while the other tries to purge the man of his doubts even though there was no indication of uncertainty. Motivation, in fact, doesn’t seem to exist, for Sheikh Saud or any of the characters involved in the conspiracy. The novel works best when the Sheikh isn’t on a soapbox, and the book’s final two sentences are more profound than any preceding passage.

A novel lacking in story and conflict, acting more as a sounding board for anti-American sentiments and political ideals.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-1456788414

Page Count: 105

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2012

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Now that Coben’s added politics to his heady brew, expect sex and religion to join the mix.

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Coben’s latest darkest-suburbs thriller sets a decidedly offbeat detective on the trail of a crime with overtones unmistakably redolent of once and future presidential elections.

Wilde is called Wilde because nobody’s known his real name from the moment a pair of hikers found him foraging for himself in Ramapo Mountain State Forest 24 years ago. Now over 40, he’s had experience as both a lost boy and a private investigator. That makes him an obvious person to help when his godson, Sweet Water High School student Matthew Crimstein, expresses concern to his grandmother, attorney Hester Crimstein, that his bullied classmate Naomi Pine has gone missing. Matthew doesn’t really want anyone to help. He doesn’t even want anyone to notice his agitation. But Hester, taking the time from her criminal defense of financial consultant Simon Greene (Run Away, 2019) to worm the details out of him, asks Wilde to lend a hand, and sure enough, Wilde, unearthing an unsavory backstory that links Naomi to bullying classmate Crash Maynard, whose TV producer father, Dash Maynard, is close friends with reality TV star–turned–presidential hopeful Rusty Eggers, finds Naomi hale and hearty. Everything’s hunky-dory for one week, and then she disappears again. And this time, so does Crash after a brief visit to Matthew in which he tearfully confesses his guilt about the bad stuff he did to Naomi. This second disappearance veers into more obviously criminal territory with the arrival of a ransom note that demands, not money, but the allegedly incriminating videotapes of Rusty Eggers that Dash and Delia Maynard have had squirreled away for 30 years. The tapes link Rusty to a forgotten and forgettable homicide and add a paranoid new ripped-from-the-headlines dimension to the author’s formidable range. Readers who can tune out all the subplots will find the kidnappers easy to spot, but Coben finds room for three climactic surprises, one of them a honey.

Now that Coben’s added politics to his heady brew, expect sex and religion to join the mix.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4814-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.


Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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