An unpredictable but overwrought thriller.

THE GIRL IN THE ATTIC

From the The Eddie Winston Series series , Vol. 1

In this crime novel, the police ineptly attempt to track down an abducted woman while she struggles to escape from her captors.

Eddie Winston, the book’s protagonist, has achieved financial success but is still traumatized by the disappearance of his beloved girlfriend, Holly Austin. After three years with no trace of her, Winston has spiraled into abject loneliness and depression. His only companions are his intuitive dog, Bobo, and a constant supply of alcohol. Out drinking one night, he senses his romantic life may be taking a positive turn when he hooks up with Lori Pritchet, a much younger acquaintance. But after a few happy hours together, Lori leaves his house to retrieve her car and vanishes. Already suspected of having some involvement in Holly’s disappearance, Winston is immediately considered a person of interest when Lori goes missing. Winston’s good looks and charm predispose some to think the worst of him, particularly envious men. Meanwhile, Lori’s abductors are torturing her in the eponymous attic. Police detectives and partners Mike Johnson and Amy Foster are split over the case. Johnson believes in Winston’s guilt and stops at nothing to implicate and frame him. Foster includes Winston in the search, hoping to develop a personal relationship with him. Back in the attic, indefatigable Lori tries to MacGyver her way to freedom. With a slat broken off the bed frame, she smashes a mirror to create sharp weapons: “Now if I only had a scabbard to house this dagger looking thing, I could stash it on my person. Of course, I had to wear a blouse that doesn’t even cover my belly button.” In Wilson’s hodgepodge of a story, the N-word is tossed around by White men, misogynist descriptions are frequent and unwelcome, and several women are ruled by their libidos. Some women lose their abilities to reason around handsome Winston. When Foster contrives a reason to sleep at Winston’s house, she sighs: “Oh, and Eddie, for the record, I’m not wearing any panties either.” But the conclusion of this high-stakes tale comes with a surprising twist, illustrating a vivid imagination at work.

An unpredictable but overwrought thriller.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9981651-0-3

Page Count: 437

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2020

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Fast, furious Clancy fare, fun even though you already know who wins.

TOM CLANCY TARGET ACQUIRED

Bentley keeps Jack Ryan Jr.’s life exciting in this latest grand-scale Tom Clancy adventure.

Ryan is in Tel Aviv on an “asset-validation exercise” for a private company referred to as The Campus, and he takes time to hang out at the beach. There, he sees a woman with a child who he can tell is autistic, and he saves her from a knife-wielding attacker. She’s flummoxed; who’d want to hurt her? When mother and son leave, Ryan wants to return the boy’s dropped Captain America toy. “What could go wrong with that?” he muses naïvely. Only three hell-raising threats in one day. Almost immediately he meets agents from Israeli security, Shin Bet. Who is he? What’s he doing there? But though he doesn’t lie about his name, no one ever exclaims, “Wow, you have the same name as the U.S. president. Any connection?” Anyway, Chinese State Security is also interested in the woman, and Jack doesn’t know why. And then mother and son are kidnapped. True to the Clancy style, what begins as the attempted return of a toy mushrooms into a threat of global conflict—“no good deed goes unpunished” is an apt cliché. Other enemies include Iran's Quds Force, an apocalyptic cult—and some smart jihadis, because “the dumb jihadis died a long time ago.” Ryan is a fierce warrior when the need arises, and he refuses a direct order to return to the U.S.: “Sorry, sir…no can do. I’ve got two innocents still at risk—a mother and child.” So even when the bad guys try to crucify him, “nobody did cornered junkyard dog better than Jack.” Meanwhile, an airborne threat may destroy Tel Aviv. The story has some nice wordplay, with helicopters “clawing for altitude like homesick angels,” and the F-35 being “part ballerina, part racehorse, and all killer.” While on the ground “blood flowed and bones broke,” and a female fighter jock has the final say.

Fast, furious Clancy fare, fun even though you already know who wins.

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18813-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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More of a curiosity for political junkies than a satisfying story of international intrigue.

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WHILE JUSTICE SLEEPS

A progressive superstar pens her first political thriller.

Anyone who follows the news knows Abrams as a politician and voting rights activist. She's less well known as a novelist. Using the pseudonym Selena Montgomery, Abrams has published several works of romantic suspense. Her new novel begins when Supreme Court Justice Howard Wynn falls into a coma. His clerk Avery Keene is shocked to discover that her boss has made her his legal guardian and granted her power of attorney. The fate of one of the most powerful men in the world is in her hands—and her life is in danger. Abrams gives us nefarious doings in the world of biotech, a president with autocratic tendencies and questionable ethics, and a young woman struggling to unravel a conspiracy while staying one step ahead of the people who want her out of the way. Unfortunately, the author doesn't weave these intriguing elements into an enjoyable whole. Abrams makes some odd word choices, such as this: “The intricate knot she had twisted into her hair that morning bobbed cunningly as she neared her office.” The adverb cunningly is mystifying, and Abrams uses it in a similar way later on. There are disorienting shifts in point of view. And Abrams lavishes a great deal of attention on details that simply don’t matter, which makes the pace painfully slow. This is a fatal flaw in a suspense novel, but it may not be the most frustrating aspect of this book. For a protagonist who has gotten where she is by being smart, Avery makes some stunningly poor decisions. For example, the fact that she has a photographic memory is an important plot point and is clearly a factor in Justice Wynn’s decision to enlist her help. When she finds a piece of paper upon which is printed a long string of characters and the words "BURN UPON REVIEW," Avery memorizes the lines of numbers and letters—and then, even though she knows she’s being surveilled, she snaps a shot of the paper with her phone, thereby making the whole business of setting it on fire quite pointless.

More of a curiosity for political junkies than a satisfying story of international intrigue.

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-385-54657-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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