A realistic and engagingly descriptive novel.

DUPED

In this thriller, an entrepreneur joins an international money laundering scheme with dire personal and political consequences.

Sam Marsh seems helpless to stave off losing the hotel/restaurant that he co-owns with his ex-wife, Karin. That is,until Tony Dobbs, an old business associate who’s also under financial duress, offers him a chance to take part in a plan to help three Nigerian officials flee their country with $37 million. Sam and Tony stand to make just over $7 million, but the deal involves some unknowns:George Laney, the head of the U.S. Department of Energy, wants to use instability between Iran and Iraq to pressure the U.S. government to buy Nigerian oil, and his plan involves his cousin, Mark Woods, and two oil tankers that have been hijacked by the Nigerian army. Maitland-Lewis, the author of Emeralds Never Fade (2011), portrays Woods as an unkempt, randy alcoholic who sleeps with his maid, has a beer belly, wears “too-tight and stained trousers,” and has “pungent body odor,” all used as symbols of American-style greed and a general lack of ethics regarding foreign affairs. Sam is also shown to be consumed by monetary desires; Dina, his lover, continually asks him to abandon his plans, but he remains adamant that he needs the money. Still, Maitland-Lewis presents Sam as valiant compared to Woods, Laney, and Ambassador Glanville Tambo, whose luxurious mansion is effectively described as “so glutted with antiques, Woods became claustrophobic.” Sam and Tony’s accommodations in Lagos, meanwhile, are said to be “reminiscent of a crayon-drawing by a young child.” The novel contains plenty of detail about Lagos along the way and about the international politics at the story’s center.

A realistic and engagingly descriptive novel.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-944715-74-8

Page Count: 198

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2020

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Enjoyable storytelling by two masters of the craft.

22 SECONDS

Lindsay Boxer faces a ton of trouble in the latest entry in Patterson and Paetro’s Women’s Murder Club series.

Senior crime reporter Cindy Thomas is writing a biography of Evan Burke, a notorious serial killer who sits in solitary confinement in San Quentin. She’s kidnapped by thugs wanting her to talk about her best friend, Lindsay Boxer, who’s an SFPD homicide detective and the story’s main character. San Francisco has a restrictive new gun law, and gun-totin’ folks everywhere have their boxer shorts in a twist. A national resistance movement has formed—Defenders of the Second—whose motto is “We will not comply.” They find it outrageous that the new law makes it illegal to own a gun that can kill 50 people with a single clip. Meanwhile, lots of bodies show up: A young girl disappears and is later found dead in a ditch, and ex-cops are found dead with their lips stapled shut and “You talk, you die” written on their foreheads. An inmate is found hanged in prison. And “a massive but unspecified load of military-style weaponry was en route from Mexico to the City by the Bay.” In a “frustrating, multipronged case,” there’s a harrowing shootout memorialized in a video showing “twenty-two of the scariest seconds” of Boxer’s life. She’s an appealing series hero with loving family and friends, but she may arrive at a crossroads where she has “to choose between my work and [my] baby girl.” The formulaic story has unmemorable writing, but it’s entertaining and well told. You probably won’t have to worry about the main characters, who have thus far survived 21 adventures. Except for the little girl, you can expect people to get what they deserve. It's relatively mild as crime novels go, but the women characters are serious, strong, and admirable.

Enjoyable storytelling by two masters of the craft.

Pub Date: May 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-49937-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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An engaging thriller that, despite some flaws, contains storytelling that pulls readers compulsively onward.

THE ISLAND

An American family’s trip to see koalas and Australian wildlife becomes a life-and-death situation after they kill an innocent woman in a car crash and her family seeks revenge.

Tom, 44; his second wife, Heather, 24; and his kids, Olivia, 14, and Owen, 12, are in Australia, piggybacking a family vacation onto a business trip. After a difficult year that saw the death of Tom’s first wife and his marriage to Heather—whom the kids dislike—a group trip seems like a way to bring them all together. Renting a car to drive to the coast in search of interesting animals seems like a fun excursion. But while stopping at a roadside stand for food, the family gets to talking with some local people, and they end up on a tiny ferry to a remote private island in search of the wildlife they haven’t yet seen. Once on the island, one thing leads to another, and Tom, driving too fast, hits a woman on a bike, killing her instantly. Over several generations, the family that lives on the island has become a law unto itself, and after realizing that the woman is dead, they seek retribution—whether it will be via death, rape, or cash is to be decided by Ma, the head of the family, and Danny, the husband of the woman who's been killed. Some elements of the survival story feel more like convenient plot points than believable developments, and the writing is occasionally overwrought as McKinty seeks to make weighty statements about life, death, and spiritual links to the natural world, but on the whole, McKinty has written an exciting thriller that follows Heather and the others as they seek to run, hide, and survive the elements until the police—whom they have no way of contacting—can arrive.

An engaging thriller that, despite some flaws, contains storytelling that pulls readers compulsively onward.

Pub Date: May 17, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-53128-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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