A profound and thought-provoking thriller examining humankind’s self-destructive tendencies.

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James’ military thriller follows the ominous chain of events triggered when an American aircraft carrier is presumably attacked in the Persian Gulf.

When the USS George W. Bush, a United States Navy aircraft carrier, is apparently attacked and sunk by Iranian terrorists off the coast of Bahrain—killing thousands of crewmembers—the quickly escalating cascade of consequences entangles numerous nations that have financial and military interests with the countries involved, pushing the superpowers to the brink of a potentially civilization-ending third world war. Centuries-old governmental relationships are put to the test as the United States aggressively appeals to allies to join in their war against Iran and terrorist organizations plotting to bring down “the Great Satan.” The nonstop action and complex political drama unfold through many varying perspectives, including those of Seaman Apprentice Thew Bryson, U.S. President Cynthia Belle, jihadist Jamal Al-Dosari, and Iranian Navy Rear Admiral Hashemi Ghavam. The structure of the novel is a bit unconventional—the story focuses on not just one or two protagonists but multiple characters with a more muted emphasis—making for a much more comprehensive and thematically powerful narrative. Additionally, the equally unorthodox conclusion works well, compelling readers to consider the ultimate consequences of the extreme events at the novel’s end. Fans of hard military fiction will be more than satisfied with the author’s impressive knowledge and meticulous descriptions of weaponry and warfare: “When the bomb bay doors opened on the twenty-five FC-31 Gyrfalcons of Samii’s squadron, the automated Phalanx Close-In Weapons Systems (CIWS, or ‘sea whiz’) radar aboard the four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers… immediately detected the aircraft and then the missiles.” Equal parts geopolitical thriller, mystery, and military fiction, James’ novel paints a dire portrait of humanity’s precarious position in the throes of international conflict.

A profound and thought-provoking thriller examining humankind’s self-destructive tendencies.

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2023

ISBN: 9781959677215

Page Count: 292

Publisher: Defiance Press & Publishing, LLC

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023


The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.

Harry Bosch and the Lincoln Lawyer team up to exonerate a woman who’s already served five years for killing her ex-husband.

The evidence against Lucinda Sanz was so overwhelming that she followed the advice of Frank Silver, the B-grade attorney who’d elbowed his way onto her defense, and pleaded no contest to manslaughter to avoid a life sentence for shooting Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Roberto Sanz in the back as he stalked out of her yard after their latest argument. But now that her son, Eric, is 13, old enough to get recruited by local gangs, she wants to be out of stir and at his side. So she writes to Mickey Haller, who asks his half-brother for help. After all his years working for the LAPD, Bosch is adamant about not working for a criminal defendant, even though Haller’s already taken him on as an associate so that he can get access to private health insurance and a UCLA medical trial for an experimental cancer treatment. But the habeas corpus hearing Haller’s aiming for isn’t, strictly speaking, a criminal defense proceeding, and even a cursory examination of the forensic evidence raises Bosch’s hackles. Bolstered by Bosch’s discoveries and a state-of-the-art digital reconstruction of the shooting, Haller heads to court to face Assistant Attorney General Hayden Morris, who has a few tricks up his own sleeve. The endlessly resourceful courtroom back-and-forth is furious in its intensity, although Haller eventually upstages Bosch, Morris, and everyone else in sight. What really stands out here, however, is that Connelly never lets you forget, from his title onward, the life-or-death issues behind every move in the game.

The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780316563765

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023


Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.

A much-beloved author gives a favorite recurring character her own novel.

Holly Gibney made her first appearance in print with a small role in Mr. Mercedes (2014). She played a larger role in The Outsider (2018). And she was the central character in If It Bleeds, a novella in the 2020 collection of the same name. King has said that the character “stole his heart.” Readers adore her, too. One way to look at this book is as several hundred pages of fan service. King offers a lot of callbacks to these earlier works that are undoubtedly a treat for his most loyal devotees. That these easter eggs are meaningless and even befuddling to new readers might make sense in terms of costs and benefits. King isn’t exactly an author desperate to grow his audience; pleasing the people who keep him at the top of the bestseller lists is probably a smart strategy, and this writer achieved the kind of status that whatever he writes is going to be published. Having said all that, it’s possible that even his hardcore fans might find this story a bit slow. There are also issues in terms of style. Much of the language King uses and the cultural references he drops feel a bit creaky. The word slacks occurs with distracting frequency. King uses the phrase keeping it on the down-low in a way that suggests he probably doesn’t understand how this phrase is currently used—and has been used for quite a while. But the biggest problem is that this narrative is framed as a mystery without delivering the pleasures of a mystery. The reader knows who the bad guys are from the start. This can be an effective storytelling device, but in this case, waiting for the private investigator heroine to get to where the reader is at the beginning of the story feels interminable.

Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781668016138

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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