Perfect summer beach reading, with or without margaritas, full of Glock-and-boat action.

RADIANT ANGEL

DeMille (The Panther, 2012, etc.) follows former NYPD detective John Corey, the bane of Middle Eastern terrorists, after he’s contracted to the Diplomatic Surveillance Group.

Corey’s sardonic voice drives this adventure, as he and his team surveil Russian U.N. delegate and SVR Col. Vasily Petrov. There’s reason to pay attention: SVR equals Russian CIA. After Corey’s bounced around alphabet-soup counterterror groups—and followed too few rules—Corey’s bosses think the tamer DSG will keep him out of trouble, but the assignment’s causing marital friction. His wife, FBI Agent Kate Mayfield, remains with the Anti-Terrorism Task Force, and her boss has the hots for her. Tailing a "dip" or not, Corey’s got cop instincts. He knows something bad is afoot when Petrov and his SVR companions motor to a Russian oligarch’s Long Island mansion and then sneak away on a pleasure boat. Corey doesn’t trust Russians, noting that "when I compared them to the Islamist I had spent years following and investigating, I had no doubt who was the most dangerous." Good instincts: Petrov’s supposed to "destroy Lower Manhattan and destroy all evidence of who had perpetrated the attack." The Russian is a desperate dude with daddy issues: his SMERSH-veteran father, a recipient of the Order of Lenin, messaged, "Come home in glory. Or do not come home." Complications arise when Buckminster Harris, a double-secret CIA-type, shows up. Harris left Corey to die in Yemen. And Corey’s supposed trainee partner, Tess Faraday? She’s a Harris-controlled undercover State Department Intelligence agent. In a plot as high-speed as the SAFE-boat Corey uses to chase Petrov, DeMille offers a less-verbose version of Clancy’s Sum of All Fears, all while rendering Long Island familiarly and adding sparks between Corey and Tess.

Perfect summer beach reading, with or without margaritas, full of Glock-and-boat action.

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-446-58085-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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

SPLIT SECOND

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.

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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