A vigorous tale in which a violent, inescapable storm terrorizes everyone, even the villains.


5 Days to Landfall


A forecaster at the turn of the millennium, using a nonoperational program of her own design, fears a hurricane is headed straight for an ill-prepared New York City in this thriller.

Reporter Jack Corbin’s proposed feature on National Hurricane Center forecaster Amanda Cole may be an excuse to be on-site for a storm’s landfall. He gets his wish, for better or worse, when Hurricane Gert hits right where he, Amanda, and photographer Juan Rico are waiting on Topsail Island, North Carolina. Amanda, however, is worried about an apparent last-minute glitch in the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory computer model for predicting storm movements. The program Amanda’s designed, the LORAX, or LOng RAnge eXtrapolation Hurricane Model, still in its test phase, is shut down during impending tempests to give processor power to the Geophysical lab. But a retro look reveals that the LORAX would have guessed Gert’s otherwise-unforeseen bump in strength. And now her program’s predicting forthcoming Hurricane Harvey will make landfall in New York. Jack, meanwhile, sees a potential story elsewhere: an individual made a “timely trade” on an insurance company’s stocks just before Gert hit land. This may relate to why someone’s evidently trying to prevent an evacuation in New York. But Amanda’s determined to warn everyone, not the least of whom is stubborn ex-husband Joe Springer, at a New Jersey beach with their 6-year-old daughter, Sarah. The disaster novel packs quite a bit of mystery: dubious goings-on, for example, somehow link to mole people living under the city and a Dominican drug family’s communication with the enigmatically named Octopus. But Britt (First Kill, 2016, etc.) makes it clear that Harvey’s the true antagonist, with colossal waves flooding the streets and heavy winds tearing roofs from buildings. Jack and Amanda, reunited after sparks during Hurricane Andrew in 1992, share a somewhat hastily re-energized romance on Topsail. This does, nonetheless, add Jack to Amanda’s growing list of anxieties while the storm rages on, along with her dad, Ed, at a Coney Island nursing home, and Sarah. Perspectives from multiple characters are a worthy setup for an exhilarating final act, with a relentless hurricane and a frighteningly high body count.

A vigorous tale in which a violent, inescapable storm terrorizes everyone, even the villains.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2016


Page Count: 312

Publisher: Ink Spot Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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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.


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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Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.


FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast finds evil afoot in his latest action-filled adventure (Verses for the Dead, 2018, etc.).

Imagine Florida beachcombers’ shock when they discover a shoe with a severed foot inside. Soon they see dozens more feet, all in identical shoes, bobbing toward the beach. Police and FBI ultimately count more than a hundred of them washing up on Sanibel and Captiva Islands' tranquil shores. Pendergast teams up with the junior Special Agent Armstrong Coldmoon to investigate this strange phenomenon. Oceanographers use a supercomputer to analyze Gulf currents and attempt to determine where the feet entered the ocean. Were they dumped off a ship or an island? Does each one represent a homicide? Analysts examine chemical residues and pollen, even the angle of each foot’s amputation, but the puzzle defies all explanation. Attention focuses on Cuba, where “something terrible was happening” in front of a coastal prison, and on China, the apparent source of the shoes. The clever plot is “a most baffling case indeed” for the brilliant Pendergast, but it’s the type of problem he thrives on. He’s hardly a stereotypical FBI agent, given for example his lemon-colored silk suit, his Panama hat, and his legendary insistence on working alone—until now. Pendergast rarely blinks—perhaps, someone surmises, he’s part reptile. But equally odd is Constance Greene, his “extraordinarily beautiful,” smart, and sarcastic young “ward” who has “eyes that had seen everything and, as a result, were surprised by nothing.” Coldmoon is more down to earth: part Lakota, part Italian, and “every inch a Fed.” Add in murderous drug dealers, an intrepid newspaper reporter, coyotes crossing the U.S.–Mexico border, and a pissed-off wannabe graphic novelist, and you have a thoroughly entertaining cast of characters. There is plenty of suspense, and the action gets bloody.

Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4725-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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