Dallas Police chief Scott Turner investigates the murders of presidential candidates while caring for his dying mother in this taut political thriller.
Dallas, Texas. Dealey Plaza. A promising presidential candidate and an assassin. No, it’s not 1963, but present-day Dallas, the candidate is an Independent, the murder weapon is a bomb, and investigating the whole mess is Scott Turner, the youngest police chief in Dallas history. Is it terrorism? A murder disguised as assassination? Or—after two more candidates are killed—some kind of conspiracy? As Dallas’ mayor, the FBI and Homeland Security get involved, Turner must navigate a complex landscape of competing interests and rich men’s secrets. Already stressed by caring for his beloved mother, who is dying of cancer, the police chief must decide whom to trust among figures close to the investigation: longtime mentor Mo, ex-fiancée and now DHS agent Jessica, his old friend Mayor Tommy Archer. Finding the truth will test all of Turner’s boldness and ingenuity. Fadden (The Brink, 2010, etc.) has created an appealing narrator in Turner. Far from being a macho Texas-sized boaster, he realizes he might be in over his head: “Military devices. Black markets. This had international incident written all over it. And here I was just shy of five years of experience as a police chief, three of which were in a town of 700 millionaires where my biggest investigation was a stolen Rolls Royce replica golf cart.” Turner’s sense of humor, his friendships and his integrity are, refreshingly, more important to his crime-solving than guns and ammo. The scenes with his mother are genuinely moving. That said, there’s plenty of action and plenty of scope for Turner to come down hard on the bad guys. The dialogue is lively and natural, minor characters are well-drawn and interesting, and a well-structured plot unfolds the truth in just the right doses at the right times.
Exciting and fast-paced, this is a satisfying political thriller with heart.
Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.
Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.
Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.
Tragedy turns into triumph in Carlson’s debut novel about a young woman who regains her self-confidence after multiple losses and years of dejection.
Before readers meet 28-year-old Jamie Shire, she has already hit rock bottom. Jobless, she drinks away her days on her best friend’s couch as she wallows in loneliness. Among Jamie’s troubles: Her mother died when she was a child, the only man she ever loved wouldn’t reciprocate, her unborn daughter died, and she continuously feels rejected by her father and brother. After a chance encounter with a wealthy woman at a coffee shop, Jamie accepts a live-in job researching philanthropic causes at Fallow Springs Estate. Reaching out to the house staff and eventually working with Darfur refugees afford Jamie some valuable context for her own pain; she’s able to gain confidence as she learns to stop fearing rejection and start pursuing her dreams. Throughout the novel, the author skillfully creates mood. In the beginning, when Jamie borders on depression, her emotional touchiness and oversensitivity will create an uneasy feeling in readers. But as Jamie slowly regains confidence, readers will also feel increasingly optimistic. Alongside the main character’s emotional struggle is the struggle faced by Darfur refugees, although this plotline doesn’t advance too far; yet details from Jamie’s trip to the refugee camp in Chad—the types of beer served at the aid workers’ bar or a depiction of a young refugee sitting blank-faced and tied to a pole because he might run away—effectively transport readers to faraway places. Jamie’s story will interest readers, but, with a weak ending, the story leaves many unanswered questions. Who is Jamie’s wealthy employer? Does Jamie’s work in Chad help anyone but herself? And what of the conflict Jamie feels between herself and the refugees, between the haves and the have-nots?
With so many minor questions left unanswered, Carlson’s captivating novel proves to be more about the journey than the destination.