A tightly executed thriller and the high point of a great series.

The Blackmail Photos

From the The Travelers series , Vol. 3

In this third installment of his Travelers series, King’s (The Computer Heist, 2016, etc.) con-artist couple target a would-be politician.

The Traveling Man and his wife are in a town called Randal Junction. This time, he’s taken the name “George Harrison,” while she goes by “Roslyn.” They’re posing as married real estate agents to penetrate the ambitious life of banker Donald Honeycutt, who’s running for Congress. The con begins in earnest when Roslyn draws Honeycutt into a sexual affair, and George clandestinely films one of their trysts from a van. They later mail the banker a package containing a few steamy stills and a DVD of the event, which he nearly opens in front of his even-more-ambitious wife, Billie Honeycutt. They also send him a note demanding that he drop $10,000 into a mailbox each month, or they’ll tell Billie and the media everything. The con proceeds apace until Billie notices a missing $10,000 that no campaign business accounts for. Although she’s aware of her husband’s one weakness—women—she’d made him promise not to philander during the campaign. She sets a private eye named Stan Jessup on the banker’s trail to learn more. Roslyn, however, has a secret that radically alters the nature of the blackmail scheme—one that could make Randall Junction the Travelers’ last stop. For his third small-town thriller, King nearly undoes his ruthless couple by pitting them against an equally horrible duo. Billie, for example, is only with Donald because she “plans to go to Washington and take her wheeling and dealing to the next level without having to be in office herself.” As usual, King’s dialogue and secondary characters make for rich, pulpy reading; for example, when Sheriff Bo Teardale catches up with George, he reassures him by saying, “You’ve been watching too much TV. If I want you disappeared, you’ll disappear.” And even though King gives Donald the self-deprecating line, “It was the plot to a bad movie,” he masterfully crafts the deadly tangle of interpersonal alliances and their fallout. Although this volume could finish the Travelers’ tales, a sequel would be irresistible.

A tightly executed thriller and the high point of a great series.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2016

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 188

Publisher: Blurred Lines Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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This is fast-paced, nonstop fun. Cussler fans will gobble it up.

JOURNEY OF THE PHARAOHS

Rumors of lost Egyptian treasure spark high adventure in this 17th in the NUMA series featuring oceanographer Kurt Austin and his crew (Sea of Greed, 2018, etc.).

Over 3,000 years ago, grave robbers sail away with loot from a pharaoh’s tomb. In 1927, Jake Melbourne and his plane disappear in his attempt at a trans-Atlantic flight. In the present day, arms merchants known as the Bloodstone Group have taken to stealing antiquities. They are looking for a “treasure both vast and glorious” that hieroglyphics say was shipped down the Nile and out of Egypt, perhaps even west across the Atlantic. (Holy scurvy! That must’ve been a lot of hard rowing!) The criminals are known to MI5 as “very dangerous people" and "merchants selling death.” Perfectly willing to kill everyone in their way, they are aided by mechanical crows and Fydor and Xandra, nasty sibling assassins jointly called the Toymaker. Such are the foes faced by Austin and his team from the National Underwater and Marine Agency. Of course, Austin has no interest in profit; he will gladly leave the ancient riches wherever they are. Action arrives early and often, and the failed pre-Lindbergh flight fits in neatly. Cussler and Brown concoct a nifty plot with disparate, sometimes over-the-top twists that will make even hardcore adventure fans say “Wow!” Expect claustrophobic gunfights, aerial combat, a life-threatening flood, messages from the dead, coffins of gold—and a vintage classic car, because why not? “We’re going to steal the greatest deposit of Egyptian treasure the world has ever known,” brags the evil mastermind. But he’ll have to climb over the series hero’s dead body first, which—no plot spoiler here—ain’t gonna happen.

This is fast-paced, nonstop fun. Cussler fans will gobble it up.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-08308-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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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