The prolific Fleming (Hours of Gladness, 1999, etc.) has been around for a while, of course, but this manifestation of him...

DREAMS OF GLORY

Historical set during the Revolutionary War—in an America not so beautiful.

It’s winter, and what remains of the rebel army is bivouacked in New Jersey, close to Morristown. And close to mutiny. There are reasons: the soldiers are hungry and cold, their clothes in tatters. Routinely, they die from exposure, dysentery, and a variety of other pernicious diseases. They also haven’t been paid in months, and desertions are a daily occurrence. Meanwhile, the Continental Congress, convened in Philadelphia to almost no purpose, engages in a kind of fratricidal war within a war, southern aristocrats and Yankee entrepreneurs sniping and carping at each other, and all of them sneering at George Washington—never mind that he’s the glue that keeps their revolution from flying apart. Four years have passed since the headiness of Lexington and Concord. Apathy, cupidity, and defeatism are now rampant, blotting anything good from Fleming’s bleak canvas. Four characters act out most of the dismal drama, all of them gripped by self-hatred and some form of despair: the degraded Major Beckford, chief of British intelligence, matched by the embittered Major Stallworth, his opposite number. Ruthlessly exploited by these cynical spymasters are the beautiful half-Jew, half-black Flora Kuyper, and the disillusioned clergyman Caleb Chandler—the former the unwilling tool of the British; the latter, equally reluctant, pressed into service by the Americans. Scruples have long since become excess baggage; only victory matters, justifying all means that end, a position even Washington accepts. With blackmail, torture and murder commonplace, both armies battle ingloriously, leaving a rooting interest hard to come by.

The prolific Fleming (Hours of Gladness, 1999, etc.) has been around for a while, of course, but this manifestation of him may surprise his readers: much better prose, significantly darker view.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-312-87743-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2000

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POP GOES THE WEASEL

After a flight in fantasy with When the Wind Blows (1998), Patterson goes to ground with another slash-and-squirm psychokiller page-turner, this one dedicated to “the millions of Alex Cross readers, who so frequently ask, can’t you write faster?” By day, Geoffrey Shafer is a charming, 42-year-old British Embassy paper-pusher with a picture-perfect family and a shady past as an MI-6 secret agent. Come sundown, he swallows a pharmacy of psychoactive pills, gulps three black coffees loaded with sugar, and roams the streets of Washington, D.C., in a battered cab, where, disguised as a black man, he rolls dice to determine which among his black female fares he—ll murder. Afterwards he dumps his naked victims in crime-infested back alleys of black- slum neighborhoods, then sends e-mails boasting of his accomplishments to three other former MI-6 agents involved in a hellish Internet role-playing game. “I sensed I was at the start of another homicide mess,” sighs forensic-psychologist turned homicide-detective Alex Cross. Cross yearns to catch the “Jane Doe murderer” but is thwarted by Det. Chief George Pittman, who assigns sexy Det. Patsy Hampton to investigate Cross and come up with a reason for dismissing him. Meanwhile, Cross’s fiancÇe is kidnaped during a Bermuda vacation, and an anonymous e-mail warns him to back off. He doesn’t, of course, and just when it appears that Patterson is sleep-walking through his story, Cross nabs Shafer minutes after Shafer kills Det. Hampton. During the subsequent high-visibility trail, Shafer manages to make the jury believe that he’s innocent and that Cross was trying to frame him. When all seems lost, a sympathetic British intelligence chief offers to help Cross bring down Shafer, and the other homicidal game-players, during a showdown on the breezy beaches of Jamaica. Kinky mayhem, a cartoonish villain, regular glimpses of the kindly Cross caring for his loved ones, and an ending that spells a sequel: Patterson’s fans couldn’t ask for more.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-69328-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1999

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A top-notch psychological thriller.

COLD COLD HEART

In Hoag’s (The 9th Girl, 2013, etc.) latest, talented young newscaster Dana Nolan is left to navigate a psychological maze after escaping a serial killer.

While recuperating at home in Shelby Mills, Indiana, Dana meets her former high school classmates John Villante and Tim Carver. Football hero Tim is ashamed of flunking out of West Point, and now he’s a sheriff’s deputy. After Iraq and Afghanistan tours, John’s home with PTSD, "angry and bitter and dark." Dana survived abduction by serial killer Doc Holiday, but she still suffers from the gruesome attack by "the man who ruined her life, destroyed her career, shattered her sense of self, damaged her brain and her face." What binds the trio is their friend Casey Grant, who's been missing five years, perhaps also a Holiday victim, even if "[t]he odds against that kind of coincidence had to be astronomical." Hoag’s first 100 pages are a gut-wrenching dissection of the aftereffects of traumatic brain injury: Dana is plagued by "[f]ear, panic, grief, and anger" and haunted by fractured memories and nightmares. "Before Dana had believed in the inherent good in people. After Dana knew firsthand their capacity for evil." Impulsive and paranoid, Dana obsesses over linking Casey’s disappearance to Holiday, with her misfiring brain convincing her that "finding the truth about what had happened to Casey [was] her chance of redemption." But then Hoag tosses suspects into the narrative faster than Dana can count: Roger Mercer, Dana’s self-absorbed state senator stepfather; Mack Villante, who left son John with "no memories of his father that didn’t include drunkenness and cruelty"; even Hardy, the hard-bitten, cancer-stricken detective who investigated Casey’s disappearance. Tense, tightly woven, with every minor character, from Dana’s fiercely protective aunt to Mercer’s pudgy campaign chief, ratcheting up the tension, Hoag’s narrative explodes with an unexpected but believable conclusion.

A top-notch psychological thriller.

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-525-95454-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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