An exuberantly plotted, if uneven, entry in a promising thriller series.


Black Flagged Redux


Action hero Daniel Petrovich tackles a worldwide biological-weapons threat in the second installment of Konkoly’s (Black Flagged, 2011, etc.) thriller series.

In a rural compound in Argentina, retired U.S. general Terrence Sanderson plans to reactivate his rogue Black Flag training program. He believes that the only effective way to tackle the world’s problems is by sending operatives on under-the-radar black-ops missions. However, Sanderson is wanted by the FBI for past misdeeds, and his best operatives, married couple Daniel and Jessica Petrovich, are having issues of their own. Jessica, who’s haunted by her previous undercover work, even tries to talk her husband into leaving the program. Amid this tension, a new assignment bubbles up: CIA agent Karl Berg, who has gone “off the books” before, has gotten wind that a disgruntled Russian scientist has unleashed a virulent virus into the water of a remote Russian town to demonstrate the weapon’s worth to Muslim extremists. With Daniel on the ground in Russia and illegally deployed CIA drones in the air, Sanderson and Berg join forces to observe the contagion and track down the scientist before the Russian government covers up the danger. Meanwhile, Jessica, taking a break in Buenos Aires, gets a visit from Serbians seeking revenge. The pace certainly doesn’t flag in this second entry in U.S. Naval Academy graduate Konkoly’s series. The book has an often confusing array of government-agency players, which makes Konkoly’s front-of-book character list a particularly welcome and necessary reference. The author’s description of the rabies-like Russian contagion is particularly intriguing and will no doubt please fans of The Walking Dead graphic-novel and TV series. The series continues to struggle with character development, however, within its imaginative plots; for example, Daniel, who rose up as a potential hero of the series in the first book, retreats somewhat into the background here, serving as merely another tool in the author’s entertaining tale of covert activities on the world stage.

An exuberantly plotted, if uneven, entry in a promising thriller series.

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-1477401392

Page Count: 382

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2013

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These characters are so beloved that readers may not mind when a few twists veer dangerously close to the absurd.


Three Gardner fan favorites—FBI agent Kimberly Quincy, Sgt. D.D. Warren of the Boston Police, and serial-killer–survivor–turned-vigilante Flora Dane—team up to untangle a series of murders, and lots of small-town secrets, in the Georgia hills.

On a hike in the hills outside the quaint tourist town of Niche, Georgia, a couple finds the partial skeletal remains of Lilah Abenito, who went missing 15 years ago. Lilah was thought to be one of the first victims connected to Jacob Ness, who kidnapped Flora eight years ago when she was a Boston college student and held her captive, mostly in a coffin-sized box, for 472 days. The chance to link the deceased Ness to additional crimes is impossible to pass up, and FBI agent Kimberly Quincy invites D.D., Flora (who is a confidential informant for D.D.), and computer analyst Keith Edgar, Flora's friend/love interest, to be part of her task force. A search through the hills turns up a mass grave full of more skeletal remains. While D.D. is updating the mayor, Howard Counsel, and his wife, Martha, who own the charming Mountain Laurel B&B, she becomes interested in their timid, fearful maid, a young Hispanic woman who's brain damaged and unable to speak following a car accident when she was a child. When Martha suddenly hangs herself (or so it seems), D.D. realizes something very odd is going on at ye olde B&B. Gardner juggles multiple narratives, including that of the Counsels’ nameless maid, with ease. However, the involvement of two civilians in a major federal task force is initially hard to swallow, as are a few supernatural elements Gardner (Look for Me, 2018, etc.) shoehorns in. But Flora’s tentative romance with Keith and her realization that she might finally be thriving, not just surviving, are bright spots, as is Gardner’s evolving and sensitive exploration of trauma and its insidious, lasting effects.

These characters are so beloved that readers may not mind when a few twists veer dangerously close to the absurd.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4500-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.


A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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