An entertainingly dense plot that links flawlessly to its forerunner, with room for more adventures.

Veil of Deception

An Air Force instructor pilot’s new station at a California base in 2001 is immersed in a conspiracy teeming with espionage, murder, and sabotage in this thriller.

Jason Conrad hadn’t anticipated his reassignment from Oklahoma to Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert. But TRENCOR Industries, working with the Air Force, had an ulterior motive for adding the pilot to its team. Jason’s the son of former senator Jonathan Bowman, now vice president of defense contractor Century Aero-Bot. TRENCOR CEO David Ming hopes Bowman will sell his company’s technology, or at least provide access, to complete the F-2000, a jet prototype past schedule and well over budget. New York Times investigative reporter Sherri Davis, meanwhile, gets wind of a body in the Mojave, a TRENCOR employee with a bullet hole in her head. Already in the area for a story, Sherri’s hooked, especially because her father died years ago operating a TRENCOR-manufactured combine. Events are unfurling at both the company’s facility and the base. The shocking reappearance of Jason’s love Kathy Delgato, for one, who left suddenly back in 1995, the same year TV reporter Dane Robinson accused Jason of being a Russian spy. Still fixated on Jason, Dane finds something unusual regarding recent land purchases. As others turn up dead, Sherri suspects someone’s planning an attack that may prove catastrophic. Lewis (Surly Bonds, 2012) carries over a lot of material from his preceding novel. He uses this to his advantage, diving right into subplots like Jason’s sordid history with Kathy. Brisk recaps catch up new readers, but may prove to be spoilers for anyone wanting to peruse the author’s earlier book. Lewis drops clever nods to the time period, characters employing an “amazing new device” (a thumb drive) and new search engine Google. Despite Sherri’s hackneyed undercover role as a stripper, she’s a sublime heroine. She unearths the bulk of the baddies’ nefarious scheme and is hardly fazed when people shoot at her, which happens more than once. One thinks that, even without Jason occasionally rescuing her, the able woman will escape potentially lethal predicaments. Lewis forgoes a climactic car chase for a more fitting—and enjoyable—jet chase.

An entertainingly dense plot that links flawlessly to its forerunner, with room for more adventures.

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9914764-2-8

Page Count: 444

Publisher: SATCOM Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2016

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

MAGIC HOUR

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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