A fast-paced series entry with an exemplary protagonist.

LIVESTOCK, DEAD STOCK

From the Winston Sage Trilogy series , Vol. 3

In the third thriller featuring Winston Sage, the former physician/epidemiologist joins a task force looking at a probable agro-terrorist plot in the U.S.

FBI Agent Dan Tilikso interrupts Win’s retirement in Santa Fe with a call to ask for his assistance. Having previously worked with Tilikso on a bioterrorist attack, Win flies to Washington, D.C., to help deal with an apparent threat to American agribusiness. He and other members of the Agro-terrorism Task Force scrutinize four recent cases of an “extremely rare” variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Since the victims’ exposure likely occurred at least a decade earlier and no additional cases have surfaced, Win determines the variant CJD was someone’s trial run. Meanwhile, a terrorist group is planning an economic strike against U.S. agriculture. It’s propagating various infectious agents via livestock on a Yemen farm while American-born jihadi pilots will initiate the “spraying program” to infect U.S. wheat fields. Aiding the group is Abdullah, a Pakistani with ties to the variant CJD cases. He, however, has animosity for the Brits; as a British citizen, he’s reportedly faced discrimination against people of color. While Win tries to determine the terrorists’ point of attack, the task force learns about Abdullah and realizes the U.K. may be in danger of his lethal vengeance. As in preceding installments like The Bag Boys’ Jihad (2018), Grufferman favors short scenes and chapters that help to keep his story moving briskly. Entailing myriad debates on strategy from both the good guys and bad, the narrative favors dialogue over description. The story is nevertheless consistently enthralling, giving ample space to the villains’ unnerving perspective, including a growing distrust of Abdullah—not a true believer—that could lead to his murder. Though Win occasionally sits out the narrative for villaincentric and England-set sequences, he remains a worthy hero for his deductive reasoning. Even his argument against immediately suspecting terrorism is sound, though readers are already aware of terrorist involvement.

A fast-paced series entry with an exemplary protagonist.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2020

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A smart summer escape.

PORTRAIT OF AN UNKNOWN WOMAN

Silva’s latest Gabriel Allon novel is a bit of a throwback—in the best possible way.

One-time assassin and legendary spymaster Gabriel Allon has finally retired. After saying farewell to his friends and colleagues in Israel, he moves with his wife, Chiara, and their two young children to a piano nobile overlooking Venice’s Grand Canal. His plan is to return to the workshop where he learned to restore paintings as an employee—but only after he spends several weeks recovering from the bullet wound that left him dead for several minutes in The Cellist (2021). Of course, no one expects Gabriel to entirely withdraw from the field, and, sure enough, a call from his friend and occasional asset Julian Isherwood sends him racing around the globe on the trail of art forgers who are willing to kill to protect their extremely lucrative enterprise. Silva provides plenty of thrills and, as usual, offers a glimpse into the lifestyles of the outrageously wealthy. In the early books in this series, it was Gabriel’s work as an art restorer that set him apart from other action heroes, and his return to that world is the most rewarding part of this installment. It is true that, at this point in his storied career, Gabriel has become a nearly mythic figure. And Silva is counting on a lot of love—and willing suspension of disbelief—when Gabriel whips up four old master canvases that fool the world’s leading art experts as a lure for the syndicate selling fake paintings. That said, as Silva explains in an author’s note, the art market is rife with secrecy, subterfuge, and wishful thinking, in no small part because it is almost entirely unregulated. And, if anyone can crank out a Titian, a Tintoretto, a Gentileschi, and a Veronese in a matter of days, it’s Gabriel Allon. The author’s longtime fans may breathe a sigh of relief that this entry is relatively free of politics and the pandemic is nowhere in sight.

A smart summer escape.

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-283485-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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A unique story of transcendent love.

LAYLA

An aimless young musician meets the girl of his dreams only to have his newfound happiness threatened by several inexplicable—and possibly supernatural—events.

The story opens as Leeds Gabriel meets with a detective while his girlfriend, Layla, is restrained in a room one flight above them. Through the interview, readers learn that Leeds was wasting both his time and his musical talent playing backup for a small-town wedding troupe called Garrett’s Band when he spied Layla dancing her heart out to their mediocre music at a wedding. When Leeds approaches Layla, their connection is both instant and intense. A blissful courtship follows, but then Leeds makes the mistake of posting a picture of himself with Layla on social media. A former girlfriend–turned-stalker wastes no time in finding and attacking Layla. Layla spends months recovering in a hospital, and it seems the girl Leeds fell for might be forever changed. Gone is her special spark, her quirkiness, and the connection that had entranced Leeds months before. In a last-ditch effort to save their relationship, he brings Layla back to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. When they get there, though, Leeds meets Willow, another guest, and finds himself drawn to her in spite of himself. As events unfold, it becomes clear that Willow will either be the key to saving Leeds’ relationship with Layla or the catalyst that finally extinguishes the last shreds of their epic romance. Told entirely from Leeds’ point of view, the author’s first foray into paranormal romance does not disappoint. Peppered with elements of mystery, psychological thriller, and contemporary romance, the novel explores questions about how quickly true love can develop, as well as the conflicts that can imperil even the strongest connections. Despite a limited cast of characters and very few setting changes, the narrative manages to remain both fast-paced and engaging. The conclusion leaves a few too many loose ends, but the chemistry between the characters and unexpected twists throughout make for a satisfying read.

A unique story of transcendent love.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0017-8

Page Count: 301

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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