A treat for readers interested in travel, romance, and murder; join the club.

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An exclusive international adventurers’ club becomes connected to the ultimate misadventure: murder.

In this second installment of Lamberson’s adventure series, American Stuart Mancini inherits from his grandfather a prestigious London flat and membership in the Kilimanjaro Club, a group that “valued fine food and drink as much as the camaraderie that came from death-defying exploration and discovery.” When Stuart goes to London in 2000 to survey his new property with his Italian girlfriend, Prima Valdocci, club member Bailey Honeybourne begs him to help locate Parnell Sumner. Parnell, a fellow club member, was apparently kidnapped in China while on a tiger-hunting expedition. Both “old goats,” Bailey and Parnell were dear friends of Stuart’s grandfather, so the protagonist feels obligated to help. He accompanies Bailey to the rugged mountains of China. There, the pair’s plans are initially waylaid when guides are found murdered. Traveling in the same area is ruthless Colorado businessman Hilliard Yates, who’s hoping to close a deal to market a male sex-enhancement drug made from tiger genitals. On Yates’ tail is Sprocket, an experienced killer with a two-inch mohawk, yellow contact lenses, and body-modification titanium bolts screwed into his skull. Sprocket botched a hit in Houston that Yates hired him to do, so now the killer wants to murder the businessman before he can retaliate for the failure. This well-written book provides plenty of unusual characters (yes, Sprocket is the standout) and multiple storylines, each offering escalating excitement. Mixed in with adventure and murder is the love affair of 40-somethings Prima and Stuart. Descriptions of China, Italy, England, Texas, and Colorado are travel guide–perfect. References to sounds are strong, such as “the hee-haw of Carabinieri sirens” and “the blur of rustling leaves and branches, stones and matter crunching beneath their boots.” Conversations and friendships are believable, but that’s not to suggest that no implausible things transpire. Though the novel can work as a stand-alone, it would be best to read the series in order as some references from the first book are not fully explained initially.

A treat for readers interested in travel, romance, and murder; join the club.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 979-8-9852013-0-7

Page Count: 474

Publisher: Hydra Heads Press

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022


Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.

A much-beloved author gives a favorite recurring character her own novel.

Holly Gibney made her first appearance in print with a small role in Mr. Mercedes (2014). She played a larger role in The Outsider (2018). And she was the central character in If It Bleeds, a novella in the 2020 collection of the same name. King has said that the character “stole his heart.” Readers adore her, too. One way to look at this book is as several hundred pages of fan service. King offers a lot of callbacks to these earlier works that are undoubtedly a treat for his most loyal devotees. That these easter eggs are meaningless and even befuddling to new readers might make sense in terms of costs and benefits. King isn’t exactly an author desperate to grow his audience; pleasing the people who keep him at the top of the bestseller lists is probably a smart strategy, and this writer achieved the kind of status that whatever he writes is going to be published. Having said all that, it’s possible that even his hardcore fans might find this story a bit slow. There are also issues in terms of style. Much of the language King uses and the cultural references he drops feel a bit creaky. The word slacks occurs with distracting frequency. King uses the phrase keeping it on the down-low in a way that suggests he probably doesn’t understand how this phrase is currently used—and has been used for quite a while. But the biggest problem is that this narrative is framed as a mystery without delivering the pleasures of a mystery. The reader knows who the bad guys are from the start. This can be an effective storytelling device, but in this case, waiting for the private investigator heroine to get to where the reader is at the beginning of the story feels interminable.

Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781668016138

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023


Lots of violent action with little payoff.

Jack Ryan Jr. is back to risk life and limb in saving a teenage girl from international killers while his father, U.S. President Jack Ryan Sr., figures out what to do with Iran’s clandestine uranium enrichment facility, hidden in a mine.

Junior, head of the secret intelligence outfit The Campus, which was functionally wiped out in Tom Clancy Flash Point (2023), is heading across Texas to a rendezvous with his fiancee, Lisanne Robertson, a one-armed former Marine and cop. He’s waylaid by the aftermath of a multi-vehicle accident that he discovers resulted from a gun attack that left a driver hanging on for life, and now puts Jack in the crosshairs of the gunmen. A tip leads him to a 4 a.m. meeting with Amanda, a single mom whose impetuous daughter, Bella, has run off with her highly undesirable boyfriend only to be abducted by the baddies. the nation’s capital, American surveillance has determined that Iran is on the cusp of nuclear armament. The only way to stop them is unleashing an unpiloted and untested super plane with massive destructive power. The book’s treatment of Iran’s “existential threat to the entire globe” as a subplot is rather curious, to say the least. You keep waiting for Bentley to connect the two stories, but that happens only superficially. Late in the book, we are told as an afterthought that Iran’s immediate threat had been “mitigated.” Unfortunately, there is no mitigation of the novel’s hackneyed prose—"The analytical portion of Jack’s brain couldn’t help but be impressed.”

Lots of violent action with little payoff.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9780593422816

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023

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