Written by the numbers, but undemanding entertainment.

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THE PRESIDENT'S DAUGHTER

A bare-chested hero of a one-time president takes on a slew of very bad jihadis, and the bullets fly.

In office, Clinton lobbed a few cruise missiles at Osama bin Laden and company, to little apparent effect. Now, teamed up with literary industrialist Patterson, his vengeance is more comprehensive. Matt Keating helms the Oval Office. A former Navy SEAL, he has a special bone to pick with Asim Al-Asheed, a sadistic one-time doctor who once crucified a captive SEAL, leaving him to hang for an hour “before the captors grew bored and slit his throat.” Not nice. Holed up in the Libyan mountains, Asim has an eager enabler in a Chinese operative named Jiang Lijun. SEALs close in, bullets are exchanged, a bomb detonates, and Asim’s family members become collateral damage. What’s a bad guy to do? Kidnap Keating’s teenage daughter, of course, but only after Keating is out of office, “a one-term president known to history as the first to lose my job against an insurgent vice president,” Pamela Barnes, who'd never liked him and defeated him in the primaries. As president, Barnes proves less interested in Mel's safety than in politics, so it’s up to Keating to work the phones with Mossad, Saudi intelligence, and the Massachusetts State Police and assemble a crew to find Asim and “separate his brain stem from his spine.” It helps that Melanie, the daughter, knows her way around tactical weapons of various kinds. She’s a tough, resourceful kid, which only serves to tick Asim off even as Jiang woos him with geopolitical calculations and fat bribes. As for Keating, well, he’s the kind of dude given to lines like, “Except for Mel, there are no innocents up there. Armed or unarmed, running away or running toward us, kill ’em all.” Guess how it all ends? There’s scarcely a moment here that can’t be seen from afar: The bad guys sneer and stab, the good guys come riding in to save the day, the sitting president fumes at having been left out of the fun, and the authors throw in genre tropes like so many grenades.

Written by the numbers, but undemanding entertainment.

Pub Date: June 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-54071-1

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Little, Brown and Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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A high-octane thriller whose hero is tossed into one impossible situation after another. Best started early in the morning.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BENNETTS

A hypernormal suburban family’s trip home from their daughter’s field hockey game leads them down a rabbit hole of criminal complications.

For some reason—maybe just because it’s a Mercedes—a pair of gunslingers pick court reporter Jason Bennett’s ride to carjack as he drives along a quiet road with his wife, photographer Lucinda, and their teenagers, Allison and Ethan. In the scuffle that follows, one of the carjackers is shot along with Allison, who dies in the hospital. Wait, it gets worse. A pair of FBI agents knocks on the Bennetts’ door at 3 a.m. to tell them that John Milo, the escaped carjacker, has framed Jason for the murder of his accomplice, George Veria Jr., in order to save himself from the wrath of Junior’s father, the kingpin of the George Veria Organization. Time is of the essence, the agents assure Jason and Lucinda: They have to leave their house and their old lives behind right now and go into the witness protection program. Sure enough, minutes after the three shellshocked Bennetts allow themselves to be driven off, a representative of the GVO sets fire to their house and follows up with a similar fire at Jason's office, and Lucinda’s office is vandalized. Warned off social media, the Bennetts can only watch helplessly as their friends and neighbors issue pleas for them to get in touch and self-styled “citizen detective” Bryan Krieger decides to launch his own freelance investigation, fueled by slanderous innuendo. Every time Jason thinks he’s finally got the situation figured out, Scottoline tosses in explosive new complications in the most relentless of all her mysteries.

A high-octane thriller whose hero is tossed into one impossible situation after another. Best started early in the morning.

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-525-53967-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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Plenty of pain for the characters, plenty of thrills for the reader.

CITY ON FIRE

A blistering novel filled with anger and bite.

Danny Ryan is a dockworker in Providence, Rhode Island, who’s “faithful like a dog” to his wife, Terri, of the rival Murphy clan, and sometimes does some less-than-legal errands for his father-in-law, John. He wants more out of his life and wants to “not owe nobody nothing,” but nobody ever leaves Dogtown. One day at the beach, he sees “the goddess who came out of the sea” and who “has a voice like sex.” Terri's brother Liam Murphy accidentally-on-purpose touches the woman’s breast, which sets off a chain reaction of events in which bullets fly and f-bombs and their ilk swarm like cicadas on nearly every page. You know, you just don’t touch a made guy’s woman, and the goddess is going out with Paulie Moretti. The Providence press gleefully reports the other-side-of-the-tracks bloodletting among men who supplement their wages with hijacking trucks and boosting heroin. So Danny wants out with his wife and son, but—well, it’s complicated. Chances are they’ll have to live and die in Dogtown. And, oh yeah, Danny loathes his rich mother, who tries so hard to make amends for abandoning him. The characters are as vividly described as some of them are vile: One guy “never met a job he couldn’t lose.” John Murphy is “the king of an empire that died a long time ago. The light of a long-dead star.” At the ocean, Danny observes that the “whitecaps look like the beards of sad old men.” A Murphy declares, “That Ryan blood….It’s cursed.” But the Murphy blood isn’t exactly touched by angels either. And then there are the Morettis, all of them trapped in a cycle of crime and violence, just looking for an excuse to go to war. One difference between Danny and some of the others is he’s never killed anybody. Yet. Meanwhile, a planned heist might just solve some financial problems for whoever survives all the betrayals.

Plenty of pain for the characters, plenty of thrills for the reader.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-285119-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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