The first in a planned new series for O’Connor (New Sins for Old Scores, 2017, etc.) has a complex plot filled with plenty...



A summons from a long-estranged brother dumps a secret agent into a world of trouble.

Jonathan Hunter Mallory had not seen his brother, Kevin, in more than 15 years, and when he arrives at their meeting place on the banks of the Shenandoah River in Virginia, he finds him under attack. Kevin manages to utter a few cryptic remarks about someone named Khalifah, Maya, and Baltimore, and then he dies from gunshot wounds. Jonathan gets nothing but hostile attitude from local detective David Bond and FBI Special Agent Victoria Bacarro, who's running a Joint Terrorism Task Force out of the small town of Winchester, Virginia—and who tells Jonathan that Kevin was a member of her team. They question his identity, why he hadn't seen his brother for so long, and why he didn't know about Kevin’s wife and adopted son. Mallory is a former CIA operative who is now a special consultant for Oscar LaRue, a legend in spook circles who's not pleased he left his Middle Eastern location to fly back to the U.S. Jonathan immediately realizes he has stepped into something big, but no matter the consequences, his feelings of guilt determine his course. He meets Kevin’s wife, Noor, a stunning Iranian, and their son, Sam, a troubled preteen. There's a small town nearby known as Sand Town because of its Muslim population, and Noor suggests the answer may lie there. While checking out an incomplete address found in Kevin’s pocket, Jonathan follows a young Middle Eastern man to a shopping mall—could this be Khalifah?—but is too late to prevent a bombing that kills hundreds. LaRue has other agents in the field but is happy to use Mallory as bait in his plan to find the masterminds who are planning more attacks to destabilize the United States. Jonathan stumbles over plenty of dead bodies, finds himself threatened from all sides, and is far from certain he can trust anyone in his quest to stop a horrific plot and find Kevin’s killer.

The first in a planned new series for O’Connor (New Sins for Old Scores, 2017, etc.) has a complex plot filled with plenty of action, but the lack of character development makes it hard to warm to his new protagonist.

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-60809-283-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Oceanview

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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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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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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