The Retimer is at his best in the field, and genre fans will gladly follow the spy who leaves behind nothing but bullet...

Fight to the Edge of Earth Tonight

Angliss’ (Mrs America: Gunluv, 2014, etc.) latest thriller in the Retimer series finds recurring Aussie intelligence agent Luthan Fennes searching for his brother, who doesn’t seem to have returned from his space tour.

Luthan doesn’t understand brother Reginald Dolsen’s shelling out his life’s savings to join a tour of the International Space Station. But Luthan, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation operative better known as the Retimer, is understandably concerned when the tourists aren’t there to greet loved ones upon their return to Earth. CIA agents tell Luthan that Dolsen has been kidnapped, but later, after Luthan ignores the agency’s warnings to stop looking for his brother, they admit that Dolsen is still in space. He’s been infected with a virus called Sifersin and effectively quarantined in the ISS. Sifersin may have made its way to Earth, courtesy of Dr. Leroy Lloyd-Jones, who, along with his brother Arthur, was a passenger on the latest tour. Luthan heads to London to find the scientist and a possible link to terrorists, hopefully saving Dolsen in the process. In spite of its sci-fi premise, Angliss’ novel stays true to the series and keeps its hero’s feet firmly on the ground for most of the story. Readers who’ve read any of the previous books will recognize some recurring themes: bomb-loving terrorists; car chases and sequences riddled with bullets; and the Retimer’s willingness to kill, including CIA agents—but only if they try to kill him first. Even a tennis match between Luthan and Leroy plays out like an action scene before being interrupted by an assassination attempt. At one point, Luthan mocks James Bond, citing the Retimer’s employment of “genuine, not cinematic, spy tradecraft” (this is soon after he’s used a jet pack to escape). The 007 inspiration is unmistakable, and Luthan, under an alias, can’t resist introducing himself as “Bach. James Bach.” There are some affecting moments early on with Luthan’s wife, Valerie, and their three children. Suspecting perpetually absent Luthan of infidelity, she even does something unheard of so that cops will find her hubby for her—a potentially interesting subplot that’s unfortunately dropped and never picked back up.

The Retimer is at his best in the field, and genre fans will gladly follow the spy who leaves behind nothing but bullet holes.

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1500507855

Page Count: 262

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2015

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Assembly-line legal thriller: flat characters, lame scene-setting, and short but somehow interminable action: a lifeless...


Two defrocked Secret Service Agents investigate the assassination of one presidential candidate and the kidnapping of another.

Baldacci (The Christmas Train, 2002, etc.) sets out with two plot strands. The first begins when something distracts Secret Service Agent Sean King and during that “split second,” presidential candidate Clyde Ritter is shot dead. King takes out the killer, but that’s not enough to save his reputation with the Secret Service. He retires and goes on to do often tedious but nonetheless always lucrative work (much like a legal thriller such as this) at a law practice. Plot two begins eight years later when another Secret Service Agent, Michelle Maxwell, lets presidential candidate John Bruno out of her sight for a few minutes at a wake for one of his close associates. He goes missing. Now Maxwell, too, gets in dutch with the SS. Though separated by time, the cases are similar and leave several questions unanswered. What distracted King at the rally? Bruno had claimed his friend’s widow called him to the funeral home. The widow (one of the few characters here to have any life) says she never called Bruno. Who set him up? Who did a chambermaid at Ritter’s hotel blackmail? And who is the man in the Buick shadowing King’s and Maxwell’s every move? King is a handsome, rich divorce, Maxwell an attractive marathon runner. Will they join forces and find each other kind of, well, appealing? But of course. The two former agents traverse the countryside, spinning endless hypotheses before the onset, at last, of a jerrybuilt conclusion that begs credibility and offers few surprises.

Assembly-line legal thriller: flat characters, lame scene-setting, and short but somehow interminable action: a lifeless concoction.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2003

ISBN: 0-446-53089-1

Page Count: 406

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2003

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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