A compelling and breathless page-turner.

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STRIKE ME DOWN

A forensic accountant gets in over her head in Mejia’s (Leave No Trace, 2018, etc.) latest psychological thriller.

Nora Trier is very good at her job. She always gets her man (or woman) and never lets personal ties get in her way. It’s why she took down a powerful CEO who was inflating profits. He was also one of her father’s oldest friends. The case ended tragically and imploded her relationship with her family. However, it’s that fierce independence and nose for justice that got her a job at the Minneapolis firm Parrish Forensics soon after the trial. Now, 15 years and 65 convictions later, Nora and her partners at Parrish have been retained by fitness giant Strike, Inc., owned by champion kickboxer Logan Russo and her husband, Gregg Abbott. In less than a week, they’ll be hosting Strike Down, a massive kickboxing tournament where fighters will be competing for $20 million in prize money, and Logan will choose a new face for the company. The prize money is missing, though, and Gregg tells Nora he thinks Logan is sabotaging the company. Nora and her team must find and recover the money before the tournament ends. It complicates things that Nora herself is a Strike devotee and idolizes the magnetic Logan Russo, who inspires a cultish following. Nora also knows Gregg from a one-night stand several months earlier where full names weren’t exchanged. Nevertheless, Nora starts digging into Strike’s financials as well as Logan and Gregg’s messy and complicated partnership and marriage. It soon becomes terrifyingly clear that this case isn’t just a matter of money—it’s life or death. Mejia’s narrative crackles with obsession, greed, lust, and plenty of ambition, and it’s loaded with more twists and turns than a spy novel. She obviously did her research into the visceral world of competitive kickboxing, and there’s plenty of territory left to mine in the surprisingly interesting (at least the way Mejia writes it) world of forensic accounting. Readers will hope to see more of the unconventional Nora Trier.

A compelling and breathless page-turner.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3323-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Emily Bestler/Atria

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

ONE GOOD DEED

Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

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Great storytelling about the pursuit of extrajudicial justice.

ONE MINUTE OUT

Ninth in the author’s Gray Man series (Mission Critical, 2019, etc.) in which “the most elite assassin in the world” has his hands full.

Ex–CIA Agent Courtland Gentry (the Gray Man) has Serbian war criminal Ratko Babic in his gun sight, but when he decides instead to kill the old beast face to face, he uncovers a massive sex-slavery ring. “I don’t get off on this,” the Gray Man lies to the reader as he stabs a sentry. “I only kill bad people.” Of course he does. If there weren’t an endless supply of them to slay, he’d have little reason to live. Now, countless young Eastern European women are being lured into sexual slavery and fed into an international pipeline, sold worldwide through “the Consortium.” Bad guys refer to their captives as products, not people. They are “merchandise,” but their plight haunts the Gray Man, so of course he is going to rescue as many women as he can. The road to their salvation will be paved with the dead as he enlists a team of fighters to strike the enemy, which includes a South African dude who is giddy for the chance to meet and kill the Gray Man. Meanwhile, Europol analyst Talyssa Corbu meets the hero while on a personal mission to rescue her sister. “You don’t seem like a psychopath,” she tells him. Indeed, though he could play one on TV. Corbu and her sister are tough and likable characters while the director of the Consortium leads a double life as family man and flesh merchant. Human trafficking is an enormous real-life problem, so it’s satisfying to witness our larger-than-life protagonist put his combat skills to good use. There will be a sequel, of course. As a friend tells the wounded Gentry at the end, he’ll be off killing bozos again before he knows it.

Great storytelling about the pursuit of extrajudicial justice.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09891-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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