A briskly paced, action-packed suspense novel featuring two heroes who take on the world.



A political thriller that pits a disgraced serviceman and a political rebel against a corrupt government administration.

In Michael’s (Fire War III: Uprising, 2016, etc.) rousing, densely plotted thrill ride, prideful U.S. Navy Capt. Kelvin Hanson, at the helm of the USS Brandyn, suddenly experiences a crisis of conscience when he defies a superior’s direct order to destroy another seafaring vessel that’s supposedly harboring a terrorist leader. His initial hesitancy and subsequent refusal to comply result in a dishonorable discharge from the armed forces even though, at a subsequent trial, it’s found that the targeted ship was not, in fact, a threat. But Hanson, who’s lost his livelihood and his true passion in life, can’t allow the issue to drop. Determined to uncover the truth behind the misguided executive order that sunk his career (as well as an innocent vessel), he teams up with Ashlee Townsend, the ultraliberal head of the Freedom Group, a government watchdog agency dedicated to monitoring political activity and holding those in power accountable for their actions. Her present focus is on U.S. President Diego Silva: “despite promises of lowering carbon emissions and better healthcare and all kinds of things, things that she herself believed deeply in, there was something wrong,” she thinks. Believing Silva was “not all he was set up to be,” Townsend follows her intuition and sets out to discredit him—but then she learns of Hanson’s troubles and decides to dig into the secrets behind them instead. The author cleverly reveals early on that the president is indeed a conniving, corrupt politician with key government players in his pocket—a man who crushes those people who dare challenge his authority. But there are even more nefarious villains in this tale for the main characters to encounter. Together, Hanson and Townsend investigate the details of the naval incident, including who was actually aboard the civilian ship, and pool their discoveries with the dirt that Hanson’s wife, Kishanna, has managed to dig up on President Silva. (She’s a dogged, hard-nosed Washington Post journalist with a score to settle against unscrupulous government operatives.) But as Hanson gets more and more desperate, a violent twist brings even more mystery, intrigue, and lethal danger into the mix. A military dictatorship attempts to assume control of the country, California secedes from the Union, and imminent war and a looming assassination plot galvanize Hanson and Townsend to spearhead a revolution and save the country from ruin. Michael delivers an ambitious, fast-paced plot and a well-drawn, compelling cast of supporting characters that includes Silva’s doting wife, Min-Seo, whose inside knowledge of her husband’s machinations could prove fatal. Headliners Hanson and Townsend, meanwhile, are intelligent, unstoppable, and wonderfully relatable characters with good hearts and adventurous minds. Readers will recognize many of the novel’s themes and character motivations in today’s real-life political climate. The book’s mysteries are dutifully solved by the heart-stopping conclusion, but readers may hope for potential future installments.

A briskly paced, action-packed suspense novel featuring two heroes who take on the world.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-979856-54-6

Page Count: 378

Publisher: Todd M. Thiede and Associates, LTD

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.


High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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