The gripping conclusion to a spy series piloted by a relatable, enjoyable hero.

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THE MAGHREB CONSPIRACY

THE THIRD SPY STORY IN CROFT'S MIDEAST TRILOGY

The intense, riveting final installment of Croft’s (Operation Saladin, 2013, etc.) Mideast trilogy.

MI6 agent and former journalist Michael Vaux is once more brought back into the fray in Croft’s latest suspenseful, dramatic thriller. Happily housesitting for an ex-lover and relieved to be retired from the danger and strain of espionage, Vaux is dismayed to hear that his services are needed yet again. MI6, a subgroup of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, has begun a new operation, reluctantly choosing Sebastian Micklethwait, their newest man, to lead the project, despite his inexperience. As a cautionary measure, MI6 decides to lure successful and savvy Vaux back into the game as a sort of chaperone for Micklethwait. The risky operation, involving the defection of a high-ranking al-Qaida operative and the promise of priceless information handed to MI6, grows more complicated and dangerous when the liaison between the official and MI6 is found brutally murdered. Vaux rejoins the murky, tense world of chasing shadows and hunting terrorists and soon discovers that this current operation is far more threatening than the ones he has taken on before. He’s forced to outsmart a competing CIA agent as well as the underground of the Muslim Maghreb; meanwhile, Micklethwait is kidnapped, raising the stakes even more. Will Vaux be able to keep apace of the agents and double agents who conspire to derail his mission? Clashes of culture, faith and motive escalate as lives are put at risk and no one proves trustworthy. Woven with historical fact and modern conflict, Vaux’s triumphant return for one last nail-biting mission proves to be a rewarding and satisfying end to this trilogy. Readers who appreciated the rumpled and unlikely hero before will celebrate his latest success and the deftness with which he bests his enemies. In fast-paced, straightforward prose, the substantive tale weaves together tension, romance and humor as Vaux once more emerges as a likable, admirable hero who carries a complicated plot with aplomb.

The gripping conclusion to a spy series piloted by a relatable, enjoyable hero.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-1500823320

Page Count: 276

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2014

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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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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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