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

THE CONSULTANT

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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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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