A remarkable cast sparks this incisive, riveting tale of intolerance.


An immigration lawyer and her latest client both face injustice and a host of menaces in Arama’s debut thriller.

Seattle-based attorney Laura Holban reluctantly takes on a new case despite her hefty workload. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers have just arrested undocumented Guatemalan immigrant Emilio Ramirez, who has lived in Washington state with a happy family and a steady job for more than two decades. But he’s now up against Seattle’s chief ICE prosecutor, Mason Waltman, who seems determined to eject him from the country. Laura’s burden is to prove that her client shouldn’t be deported, a task that is complicated by a false assault claim leveled at Emilio. Someone appears to really want Emilio back in Guatemala; his family’s home is broken into, and Laura is physically intimidated in an effort to get her to drop the case. Suddenly, questions arise about the validity of Laura’s own green card, which she received when she immigrated to the United States from Romania 18 years earlier. Laura worries that Emilio will be killed if he returns to his native country, a sad fate that’s befallen other clients of hers—but the greatest danger for her, Emilio, and his family may be much closer to home. Arama’s taut narrative brims with tension and indelible characters. The author is sensitive to discrimination (“When a native speaker makes a mistake, it’s because they’re tired or distracted. When an immigrant makes the same mistake, it’s because they’re dumb”) and microaggressions: Several people make note of Laura’s accent, as if she’s a tourist in the country she’s made her home. The story derives suspense from unpredictable threats courtesy of ICE, crooked lawyers, and the mysterious figure targeting Emilio. Most of Laura’s fight takes place outside the courtroom, where only a few scenes are set. Violence crops up in the final act, though it’s nominal, and the ending packs a mean dramatic punch.

A remarkable cast sparks this incisive, riveting tale of intolerance.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781947845381

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Ooligan Press

Review Posted Online: March 22, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2023

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A well-turned, if predictable, installment in the popular series.


With the United States the “closest [it’s] been to war” in a lifetime, intelligence operative Jack Ryan Jr. faces stiff odds in trying to avert disaster with China.

Trouble with China begins brewing (yet again in the Clancy books) with the rendition of a Chinese scientist and the killing of his American brother, a specialist in machine learning. With a sniper attack on the German outpost of The Campus, Ryan’s “off-the-books” agency, and the downing of an American plane over the South China Sea, U.S. efforts to recover a Chinese undersea glider capable of detecting a $3 billion American stealth submarine are in jeopardy. Things look especially grim with the capture of crash survivor John Clark, Ryan’s boss and a close compadre of his father, President Jack Ryan Sr. With Ryan Sr. still shaken by the abduction of his wife a year ago and Ryan Jr. doubtful of his abilities as a team leader, it's up to intelligence director Mary Pat Foley to calm the waters with her expertise and strong will. One possible outcome is a Chinese attack on Taiwan. In Bentley’s third outing in the series, it takes a while to get past cookie cutter stuff: Many pages go by before the reader knows what all the tense language, chase scenes, and international travel are about. But the book's cool, checkerboard efficiency eventually takes hold. And the streaks of vulnerability that run through the Ryans impart a human dimension that most such thrillers lack. Bentley also takes pains to distinguish the novel from fake fiction: “Unlike in the movies, getting struck by a rifle round moving at several thousand feet per second was not insignificant.”

A well-turned, if predictable, installment in the popular series.

Pub Date: May 23, 2023

ISBN: 9780593422786

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2023

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


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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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