An entertaining, if coldhearted, international thriller.

SHAKEDOWN

Ex–Navy SEAL Brett Garrett and ex–FBI agent Valerie Mayberry, each disgraced in their respective field, go outside of official channels to avert a devastating threat to the United States.

The murder of an Iranian scientist who lived in a condo down the hall from Garrett primes the plot of this geopolitical thriller, which involves a criminally connected Russian oil billionaire; an evil Iranian general who was "conceived in a brutal rape"; a Palestinian father-daughter assassination team out to avenge the killing of the rest of their family in an Israeli bombing; and an Islamic terrorist recruited by Iran to detonate a nuclear device on a "ghost" submarine off the coast of Virginia. Back from Gingrich and Earley's Collusion (2019), Brett and Valerie are quite the duo. He is an opioid-addicted Afghanistan and black ops veteran whose torture/murder of Russian general Andre Gromyko (Gingrich's backhanded salute to the late, real-life Soviet foreign minister?) led to his ouster from the SEALs. She is an obsessive, oxycodone-popping beauty (her partner thinks she resembles Keri Russell of TV's The Americans, but she acts more like Claire Danes on Homeland) who has to cope with permanent nerve damage from a gas attack on the U.S. Senate. Though the authors are happy to install a naïve president with the name Randle Fitzgerald, their political commentary is largely restrained—Fitzgerald's party affiliation is not revealed. This is, at its best, an action thriller, with a full share of bang-up scenes (and at least one torture too many). And though former House Speaker Gingrich and Earley have a nagging tendency to have characters verbalize plot details (as in "Remind me, Petrov, how many fights did you win before we were released?" and "You mean, before your father bribed three judges to erase our crimes?"), they keep the story afloat.

An entertaining, if coldhearted, international thriller.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-286019-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

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LATER

Horrormeister King follows a boy’s journey from childhood to adolescence among the dead—and their even creepier living counterparts.

Jamie Conklin sees dead people. Not for very long—they fade away after a week or so—but during that time he can talk to them, ask them questions, and compel them to answer truthfully. His uncanny gift at first seems utterly unrelated to his mother Tia’s work as a literary agent, but the links become disturbingly clear when her star client, Regis Thomas, dies shortly after starting work on the newest entry in his bestselling Roanoke Saga, and Tia and her lover, NYPD Detective Liz Dutton, drive Jamie out to Cobblestone Cottage to encourage the late author to dictate an outline of his latest page-turner so that Tia, who’s fallen on hard times, can write it in his name instead of returning his advance and her cut. Now that she’s seen what Jamie can do, Liz takes it on herself to arrange an interview in which Jamie will ask Kenneth Therriault, a serial bomber who’s just killed himself, where he’s stowed his latest explosive device before it can explode posthumously. His post-mortem encounter with Therriault exacts a high price on Jamie, who now finds himself more haunted than ever, though he never gives up on the everyday experiences in which King roots all his nightmares.

Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7890-9649-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Hard Case Crime

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Top-drawer crime fiction. The authors are tough on the hero, but the hero is tough.

THE RED BOOK

Patterson and Ellis put their characters through hell in this hard-edged second installment of their Black Book series after The Black Book (2017).

A young girl is one of four people gunned down in a “very, very bad” K-Town drive-by shooting in Chicago. Police are under intense political pressure to solve it, so Detective Billy Harney is assigned to the Special Operations Section to put the brakes on the gang violence on the West Side. His new partner is Detective Carla Griffin, whom colleagues describe as “sober as an undertaker” and “as fun as a case of hemorrhoids.” And she looks like the last thing he needs, a pill popper. (But is she?) Department muckety-mucks want Harney to fail, and Griffin is supposed to spy on him. The poor guy already has a hell of a backstory: His daughter died and his wife committed suicide (or did she?) four years earlier, he’s been shot in the head, charged with murder (and exonerated), and helped put his own father in prison. (Nothing like a tormented hero!) Now the deaths still haunt him while he and Griffin begin to suspect they’re not looking at a simple turf war starring the Imperial Gangster Nation. Meanwhile, the captain in Internal Affairs is deep in the pocket of some bad guys who run an international human trafficking ring, and he loathes Harney. The protagonist is lucky to have Patti, his sister and fellow detective, as his one reliable friend who lets him know he’s being set up. The authors do masterful work creating flawed characters to root for or against, and they certainly pile up the troubles for Billy Harney. Abundant nasty twists will hold readers’ rapt attention in this dark, violent, and fast-moving thriller.

Top-drawer crime fiction. The authors are tough on the hero, but the hero is tough.

Pub Date: March 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49940-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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