The prose is pedestrian, the plotting predictable, the characters comic strip, and the end long in coming. (Author Tour)


            Second-novelist Flynn (Term Limits, 1998) returns, this time with an overstuffed political thriller about bad guys kidnapping the White House.

            With the President in it – though at first he’s presumed safe, hunkered down in his custom-built bunker, having been spirited there just in time by the Secret Service.  The main meanie is one Rafique Aziz, zealot, all-around nutcase, and valued henchman of Saddam Hussein.  Rotten to the core understates it for Aziz.  He won’t even let his hostages go to the bathroom.  He has over a hundred of them, and the deal is the US either complies with his demands – (1) release Iraq’s frozen assets, (2) end the onerous Iraqi blockade, and (3) support a free and autonomous Palestinian state now! – or he shoots a hostage an hour.  To demonstrate his bona fides, he dispatches a couple on national TV.  It’s a crisis that cries out for Mitch Rapp, the CIA’s top counterintelligence operative, “the most efficient and lethal killer in the modern era of the Agency.”  Mitch, code name Iron Man, who lost his high-school sweetheart in Pan Am flight 103 and has been relentlessly vengeful ever since, gains access to the White House.  Bloody-minded Aziz booby-traps everything in sight.  Meanwhile, power has now been transferred to the Vice President, who proves himself a double-dealing sneak and errant coward.  Mitch rescues a female hostage and falls in love.  A lot of people get their heads blown off by MP-5 submachine guns.  When at last the President is saved, he tells Mitch and his mates how much the country owes them.  The reply:  “I was just doing my duty.”  But where is the dastardly Aziz?  Unfortunately, it takes an epilogue to do him in.

            The prose is pedestrian, the plotting predictable, the characters comic strip, and the end long in coming.  (Author Tour)

Pub Date: July 6, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02319-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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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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The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once...


In Baldacci’s 19th (True Blue, 2009, etc.), boy and girl monster-hunters meet cute.

Evan Waller, aka Fadir Kuchin, aka “the Butcher of Kiev,” aka “the Ukrainian psychopath,” is one of those deep-dyed villains a certain kind of fiction can’t do without. Serving with distinction as part of the Soviet Union’s KGB, he joyfully and indiscriminately killed thousands. Now, many years later, posing as a successful businessman, he’s vacationing in Provence where, unbeknownst to him, two separate clandestine operations are being mounted by people who do not regard him with favor. Reggie Campion—28 and gorgeous—spearheads the first, an ad hoc group of monster-hunting vigilantes. Studly, tall Shaw (no first name supplied) is point guard for a rival team, shadowy enough to leave the matter of its origin ambiguous. While their respective teams reconnoiter and jockey for position, studly boy meets gorgeous girl. Monster-hunters are famous for having trust issues, but clearly these are drawn to each other in the time-honored Hollywood fashion. Shaw saves Reggie’s life. She returns the favor. The attraction deepens and heats up to the point where team-members on both sides grow unsettled by the loss of focus, singularly inopportune since, as monsters go, Waller rises to the second coming of Caligula—ample testimony furnished by a six-page, unsparingly detailed torture scene. In the end, the stalkers strike, bullets fly, screams curdle the blood, love has its innings and a monster does what a monster’s got to do.

The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once again show the stuff it’s made of.

Pub Date: April 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-446-56408-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Avon A/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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