A dark, suspenseful legal tale with a remarkable coda.

READ REVIEW

ARIEL'S ISLAND

In McKee’s debut thriller, an Atlanta lawyer sets about clearing his name after he becomes a murder suspect.

After successfully defending a patent case for the Milano Corporation, Paul McDaniel is ready for a weekend at the beach. But his victory quickly sours when Paul suspects that Anthony Milano used the case as a way to get his hands on brother Placido’s stocks in the family business after the two inherited a controlling share of it. Despite news that Placido has been missing since the trial ended, his daughter, Melissa Milano, tells Paul that her father is hiding, as he’s convinced Anthony is trying to kill him. Paul agrees to help Melissa—whom he dated in the past—track down Placido. But a coverup is already underway, and Paul is soon a suspect in not one but three homicides. He goes on the run but grows determined to prove his innocence. At the same time, he learns that Anthony is holding Melissa captive to draw out Placido. Fortunately, Paul has a few allies, from recently befriended, retired Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Bill Grey to Placido’s artificial intelligence “assistant,” Ariel. As they concoct a plan to rescue Melissa, Paul struggles to avoid authorities so he’ll have time to vindicate himself. McKee’s novel is grim throughout. Paul, for example, distrusts even some of the people he works with and has a strained relationship with his mother, a homeless alcoholic who sees him only when she wants money. As for Ariel, she’s a savvy AI—she can access ATMs—but her “moral limitations” make Paul understandably wary. Although numerous characters die, McKee avoids excessive depictions of violence. Instead, he showcases notable scenes of suspense, as when a group sneaks onto an island to find Melissa and when a police officer stops Paul, who’s on the lam and carrying someone else’s ID. The ending takes a bit of a turn, though it’s not wholly unexpected and is certainly memorable.

A dark, suspenseful legal tale with a remarkable coda.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Southern Fried Karma, LLC

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

OUTFOX

An FBI agent is determined to catch a man who bilks and murders wealthy women, but the chase goes slowly.

Brown (Tailspin, 2018, etc.) has published 70 bestsellers, and this one employs her usual template of thriller spiked with romance. Its main character, Drex Easton, is an FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer, but for him it’s personal. When he was a boy, his mother left him and his father for another man, Weston Graham. Drex believes Graham murdered her and that he has killed at least seven more women after emptying their bank accounts. Now he thinks he has the clever Graham—current alias Jasper Ford—in his sights, and he’s willing to put his career at risk to catch him. The women Ford targets are wealthy, and his new prey is no exception—except that, uncharacteristically, he has married her. Talia Ford proves to be a complication for Drex, who instantly falls in lust with her even though he’s not at all sure she isn’t her husband's accomplice. Posing as a would-be novelist, Drex moves into an apartment next door to the Fords’ posh home and tries to ingratiate himself, but tensions rise immediately—Jasper is suspicious, and Talia has mixed feelings about Drex's flirtatious behavior. When Talia’s fun-loving friend Elaine Conner turns up dead after a cruise on her yacht and Jasper disappears, Drex and Talia become allies. There are a few action sequences and fewer sex scenes, but the novel’s pace bogs down repeatedly in long, mundane conversations. Drex's two FBI agent sidekicks are more interesting characters than he is; Drex himself is such a caricature of a macho man, so heedless of ethics, and so aggressive toward women that it’s tough to see him as a good guy. Brown adds a couple of implausible twists at the very end that make him seem almost as untrustworthy as Graham.

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7219-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

more