GHOSTS OF HAVANA

Former government official Moss offers a lively, informed, and timely political novel about Cuba's future and America's role...

After Havana seizes the fishing boat of four Americans in Cuban waters and holds them captive, the U.S. State Department sends its ace crisis strategist Judd Ryker to the island on a mission that grows more and more mysterious.

Even in the wake of a historic thawing of relations between the U.S. and Cuba, Havana remains a thorn in Washington's side. In the aftermath of the boating incident, Florida Congresswoman Brenda Adelman-Zamora, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, calls for the U.S. to suspend diplomatic ties with Cuba and reimpose sanctions. The CIA's unnamed Deputy Director of Operations aims to fuel an insurrection in Cuba but has no clue who is in line to succeed the 86-year-old El Comrade Jefe (read: Raul Castro). The State Department, meanwhile, wants former academic Ryker and his Critical Response Unit, which expertly manipulates moments of crisis in America's favor, to influence Cuba's future. Even before Ryker lands in Cuba for an ultrasecret meeting with military intelligence chief Oswaldo Guerrero—the notorious "Diablo" known for ruining American schemes going back to the Bay of Pigs—Judd's CIA operative wife, Jessica, is in Florida investigating the boaters' shady backgrounds. The book's running gimmick is that husband and wife, who have found themselves at tactical odds in other countries, have promised never again to work on the same case in the same city. But here is Jessica, who's supposed to be vacationing with their kids, counting the lies she's telling Judd as she gets deeper into danger. Though their Mr. & Mrs. Smith act isn't always believable, it gives the book a lighter and breezier appeal than Moss' previous efforts, The Golden Hour (2015) and Minute Zero (2015).

Former government official Moss offers a lively, informed, and timely political novel about Cuba's future and America's role in it.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-17593-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

KILLING FLOOR

From the Jack Reacher series , Vol. 1

Welcome to Margrave, Georgia—but don't get too attached to the townsfolk, who are either in on a giant conspiracy, or hurtling toward violent deaths, or both. There's not much of a welcome for Jack Reacher, a casualty of the Army's peace dividend, who's drifted into town idly looking for traces of a long-dead black jazzman. Not only do the local cops arrest him for murder, but the chief of police turns eyewitness to place him on the scene, even though Reacher was getting on a bus in Tampa at the time. Two surprises follow: The murdered man wasn't the only victim, and he was Reacher's brother Joe, whom he hadn't seen in seven years. So Reacher, who so far hasn't had anything personally against the crooks who set him up for a weekend in the state pen at Warburton, clicks into overdrive. Banking on the help of the only two people in Margrave he can trust—a Harvard-educated chief of detectives who hasn't been on the job long enough to be on the take, and a smart, scrappy officer who's taken him to her bed—he sets out methodically in his brother's footsteps, trying to figure out why his cellmate in Warburton, a panicky banker whose cell-phone number turned up in Joe's shoe, confessed to a murder he obviously didn't commit; trying to figure out why all the out-of- towners on Joe's list of recent contacts were as dead as he was; and trying to stop the local carnage, or at least direct it in more positive ways. Though the testosterone flows as freely as printer's ink, Reacher is an unobtrusively sharp detective in his quieter moments—not that there are many of them to judge by. Despite the crude, tough-naif narration, debut novelist Child serves up a big, rangy plot, menace as palpable as a ticking bomb, and enough battered corpses to make an undertaker grin.

Pub Date: March 17, 1997

ISBN: 0-399-14253-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1997

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