The result is to loosen the logical links that connect one set piece to another and recast the whole story as if it were a...

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TAKEN

A kidnapping drops Elvis Cole and Joe Pike into the maelstrom of human smugglers.

After L.A. college senior Krista Morales finds out the secret her boyfriend, USC dropout Jack Berman, has been hiding, she brings him out to the desert to reveal her own secret: the place where her mother Nita, who runs a highly successful business, was once brought into the country as an illegal alien. Unfortunately, the coyotes are still plying their customary trade at the very same spot, and Krista and Jack get swept up in a passing caravan. Convinced there’s something strange about a ransom demand of a measly $500 delivered over the phone by her daughter in a heavy Mexican accent, Nita calls in Elvis Cole, the World’s Greatest Detective. Working as usual with laconic Joe Pike, Cole soon ties the human-trafficking ring to the Double Dragon Korean gang and Syrian mastermind Ghazi al-Diri. But his attempt to infiltrate the ring as an unscrupulous capitalist who needs cheap labor backfires when he’s recognized and seized himself. Now Pike must enlist his mercenary buddy Jon Stone to help rescue Krista, Jack, Cole and maybe even the two dozen illegals with whom they’re being held in an undisclosed location. For some reason, the normally reliable Crais (The Sentry, 2011, etc.) doesn’t trust his story, loaded with the promise of vigilante heroics and nonstop violence, to deliver the goods. So he jazzes it by pulverizing it into sections that leap back and forth in time and among different points of view (e.g., “ELVIS COLE: four days before he is taken”).

The result is to loosen the logical links that connect one set piece to another and recast the whole story as if it were a string of trailers for a dozen hellacious summer movies.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-15827-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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

THE SILENT PATIENT

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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