A thrilling, engrossing work of serpentine intrigue and crisp characterization with a conservationist conscience.

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RINN'S CROSSING

Murder and mystery commingle with dirty politics in Heath’s (Broken Angels, 2015) eco-thriller.

Heath channels his experience as a former environmental protection lobbyist at the Alaska legislature into the creation of Kit Olinsky, a single mother of one who tries to protect that state’s natural resources through her work with the Alaska Environmental Lobby. Kit finds herself in hot water after being indicted in the sudden death of a maintenance worker during an explosion at a logging site in the Tongass National Forest. The plot thickens when it appears that a conniving senator may have orchestrated the murder charge to distract Kit from meddling with a bill he supports that involves Native American land rights, which would further his political ambitions if passed. He will stop at nothing to get the bill through the legislature, including colluding with other lawmakers and attaching controversial riders to it, such as an abortion deterrent. Blackmail, threats, and coverups ensue as Kit attempts to absolve herself from the charge that she’s leading a group of outlaw eco-terrorists while at the same time trying to keep her child from being removed by the state from her care. Additionally, Kit must deal with her attraction to her former lover, “mountain man” Rinn Vaness, whose need for revenge against the perpetrators of deforestation efforts leads to acts of vandalism bordering on eco-terrorism. Vaness might be able to help her, but in order to do it, he’d have to tangle with Dan Wakefield, Kit’s friend and the CEO of the Tlikquan logging group that Rinn sabotaged only days earlier. The plot moves at a riveting pace, and fans of suspense fiction—particularly eco-thrillers—will find themselves pleasantly engaged with all the treacherous political and interpersonal machinations. Heath cleverly incorporates many contemporary hot-button issues into his narrative, such as Native Americans’ attempts to claim overdue rights and the enduring fight between woodland conservationists and political and corporate entities bent on developing precious forestland for profit. Heath certainly knows his way around controversial land management issues and parlays this knowledge into a riveting page-turner.

A thrilling, engrossing work of serpentine intrigue and crisp characterization with a conservationist conscience.

Pub Date: March 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63393-888-5

Page Count: 350

Publisher: Koehler Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2020

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Great storytelling about the pursuit of extrajudicial justice.

ONE MINUTE OUT

Ninth in the author’s Gray Man series (Mission Critical, 2019, etc.) in which “the most elite assassin in the world” has his hands full.

Ex–CIA Agent Courtland Gentry (the Gray Man) has Serbian war criminal Ratko Babic in his gun sight, but when he decides instead to kill the old beast face to face, he uncovers a massive sex-slavery ring. “I don’t get off on this,” the Gray Man lies to the reader as he stabs a sentry. “I only kill bad people.” Of course he does. If there weren’t an endless supply of them to slay, he’d have little reason to live. Now, countless young Eastern European women are being lured into sexual slavery and fed into an international pipeline, sold worldwide through “the Consortium.” Bad guys refer to their captives as products, not people. They are “merchandise,” but their plight haunts the Gray Man, so of course he is going to rescue as many women as he can. The road to their salvation will be paved with the dead as he enlists a team of fighters to strike the enemy, which includes a South African dude who is giddy for the chance to meet and kill the Gray Man. Meanwhile, Europol analyst Talyssa Corbu meets the hero while on a personal mission to rescue her sister. “You don’t seem like a psychopath,” she tells him. Indeed, though he could play one on TV. Corbu and her sister are tough and likable characters while the director of the Consortium leads a double life as family man and flesh merchant. Human trafficking is an enormous real-life problem, so it’s satisfying to witness our larger-than-life protagonist put his combat skills to good use. There will be a sequel, of course. As a friend tells the wounded Gentry at the end, he’ll be off killing bozos again before he knows it.

Great storytelling about the pursuit of extrajudicial justice.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09891-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

OUTFOX

An FBI agent is determined to catch a man who bilks and murders wealthy women, but the chase goes slowly.

Brown (Tailspin, 2018, etc.) has published 70 bestsellers, and this one employs her usual template of thriller spiked with romance. Its main character, Drex Easton, is an FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer, but for him it’s personal. When he was a boy, his mother left him and his father for another man, Weston Graham. Drex believes Graham murdered her and that he has killed at least seven more women after emptying their bank accounts. Now he thinks he has the clever Graham—current alias Jasper Ford—in his sights, and he’s willing to put his career at risk to catch him. The women Ford targets are wealthy, and his new prey is no exception—except that, uncharacteristically, he has married her. Talia Ford proves to be a complication for Drex, who instantly falls in lust with her even though he’s not at all sure she isn’t her husband's accomplice. Posing as a would-be novelist, Drex moves into an apartment next door to the Fords’ posh home and tries to ingratiate himself, but tensions rise immediately—Jasper is suspicious, and Talia has mixed feelings about Drex's flirtatious behavior. When Talia’s fun-loving friend Elaine Conner turns up dead after a cruise on her yacht and Jasper disappears, Drex and Talia become allies. There are a few action sequences and fewer sex scenes, but the novel’s pace bogs down repeatedly in long, mundane conversations. Drex's two FBI agent sidekicks are more interesting characters than he is; Drex himself is such a caricature of a macho man, so heedless of ethics, and so aggressive toward women that it’s tough to see him as a good guy. Brown adds a couple of implausible twists at the very end that make him seem almost as untrustworthy as Graham.

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7219-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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