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.
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.
Pirates, magic and a secret society collide in this fantasy middle-grade novel.
This fast-paced novel follows best friends Cameron and Miguel, who are looking for adventure while cruising through their Arizona town on a tandem bicycle. They find it when an enchanted pirate ship flies overhead and lands in a convenience store’s parking lot. The ship sets up as a shop, which uses an intoxicating mist to trick customers into buying overpriced sea-themed merchandise, while simultaneously making them defenseless against pickpocket pirates. Cameron has bigger problems when Blackbeard, the ship’s intimidating captain, decides that the tween has stolen a powerful ring that would allow him to shape-shift into any person he imagines. Raising the stakes, the pirates kidnap Miguel and force him to perform grunt work with no chance of release. Cameron enlists the help of his best gal pal, Marcella, to free Miguel, but their mission takes a surprising turn when they discover a secret society protecting an underground gold mine. Author Loge keeps the action coming as the trio encounter a nasty doppelganger, a sinister talking parrot and a gang of violent pirates. The breezy writing ensures that the story doesn’t get stale. With so many quick twists and turns, young readers could get lost along the way, but Loge clearly explains all the unexpected changes to keep his audience on track. In addition to a sprinkling of black-and-white illustrations, Cameron’s easy friendship with Miguel and Marcella keeps things light and youthful when the tale could have been bogged down with one too many odd, mystical events. The heart of the book—a young boy as the chosen one who must defeat an evil enemy—has been a common YA plotline in recent years, but Loge’s energetic style makes the theme seem fresh.
A fun adventure for anyone who’d love to see a few spunky kids trick some bad-news pirates.