Lean, mean tropical thrills—something like Carl Hiaasen on a black day.



A straight-shooting former president spends his dying days in search of his wife’s murderer.

Marine biologist Doc Ford, last seen in White’s Dark Light (2006), answers the call from one-term president Kal Wilson to assist him in the hunt for fiendish pyro-sadistic thrill-killer Praxcedes Lourdes, a grotesque villain who torched the former first lady’s plane in Central America. Ford can’t say no to the ex-president, who combines all the best qualities of predecessors Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I and Clinton, with none of their shortcomings. As if all those admirable qualities weren’t enough, the guy is dying of leukemia. But to pull off the mission, which the studly Ford most assuredly wants to do (the ultra-evil Lourdes nearly snuffed out Ford’s son), he and the president must first escape the Florida Keys, slipping from the clutches of the ultra-watchful Secret Service, a maneuver made possible by the sailing skills of Ford’s old pal Tomlinson, another presidential recruit. Tomlinson’s brains have been lightly sautéed by years of dope and electroshock, but he’s a great navigator. The little commando force, after a run-in with some high-powered journalists who fail to penetrate the president’s disguise, flies off to the banana republics and very nearly into the arms of Lourdes and a small army of terrorist mercenaries. The mission seems compromised and close to failure. The network journalists are hot on their trail, despite Wilson’s fanatically tight security and his insistence on an electronic blackout at all times. And then Tomlinson and the president’s bodyguard and soulmate are captured and, it seems, put to the torch. Ford, as series fans know, is a most resourceful and highly deadly marine biologist, but his skills may not be enough to put out Lourdes’s flames.

Lean, mean tropical thrills—something like Carl Hiaasen on a black day.

Pub Date: March 15, 2007

ISBN: 0-399-15370-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.


Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.


A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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