An engaging thriller featuring rounded characters and a variety of locales.

OPERATION ARGUS

MASKIROVKA: ARE YOU READY FOR THE TRUTH?

While investigating the murder of one of their own, former members of a British Special Forces unit untangle an international web of crime and corruption in Mitchell’s debut novel.

In 2016, tragedy reunites a handful of men who once served together in the 22nd Special Air Service Regiment. Bob in West Africa, Sam in the United Kingdom, and others join Mitch in California to attend the funeral of their fallen comrade, Paul, who allegedly died of a heart attack. Mitch suspects that Paul was murdered, and an autopsy reveals signs “some sort of lethal injection.” Then another retired SAS operative dies under identical circumstances. Paul had been working with the CIA on an election-rigging investigation that began in Thailand and later expanded to other countries, including the United States. The men start their own investigation with Irish mob boss Tommy Boyle, whom they think they saw at Paul’s funeral. However, their interrogation of Boyle only leads to further complications, as they discover an inexplicable connection between members of the Irish mob and various Russians and Colombians. Unraveling the conspiracy entails globe-trotting and gunfights, and one of the former operatives turns out to have a surprise association with the criminals they’re investigating. Mitchell’s taut narrative skillfully juggles its many characters by introducing them individually in their respective countries before taking them all to America. Although the book has its share of action scenes, it’s primarily about investigation and espionage. The vigorous plot keeps things lively by intermittently splitting up the SAS team—Mitch and Mac question Boyle, for instance, while Jimmy travels to Lithuania solo to follow another lead. Certain characters are shrouded in mystery, such as Nikita, a male friend of Mitch’s daughter; and Conrad Yee, aka “the Dog,” “the most expensive assassin on the planet.” Although there are some casualties, other characters’ fates are left up in the air, allowing them to return in a future installment.

An engaging thriller featuring rounded characters and a variety of locales.

Pub Date: May 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5320-4771-8

Page Count: 334

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Oct. 8, 2018

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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...

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

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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