As in Monarch’s debut (Rogue, 2012), veteran Sullivan throws every popcorn-movie cliché you can think of into the mix. The...

OUTLAW

Who you gonna call when a dastardly terrorist cabal kidnaps the foreign ministers of China, India and the U.S.? Master thief and CIA alum Robin Monarch, of course. He’ll shake things up for sure.

When Secretary of State Agnes Lawton is snatched, together with her Indian and Chinese counterparts, from a hush-hush meeting aboard the oil tanker Niamey, her husband, Bill, strenuously opposes President Robert Sand’s plan to pay Monarch and his team $15 million to rescue her. But it’s actually a bargain, since the Sons of Prophecy, who claim responsibility, demand $500 million, plus the release of all political prisoners, for each of their three hostages. Dogging the footsteps of James Bond and dozens of wannabe Bonds, Monarch tangles with Vietnamese security forces during his inspection of Niamey, follows a clue to the Apocalypse Now Bar, arouses the ire of Shing-Tun triad leader Long Chan-Juan, the sinister Moon Dragon who pulls the strings from Hong Kong, and generally raises hell wherever he goes. Bashir Rhana, Monarch’s counterpart from India, soon departs the action, leaving Song Le, of the Chinese Ministry of State Security, as the Bond girl. As she and Monarch question fences, mercenaries and arms dealers who lie, squirm, then try to kill them, the Sons of Prophecy step up their game, sabotaging the Suez and Panama canals, and the clock ticks down toward the moment when the secretary of state and her fellow diplomats will face the scimitar. An extended epilogue sorts out exactly who was responsible for which double cross for the benefit of those who care.

As in Monarch’s debut (Rogue, 2012), veteran Sullivan throws every popcorn-movie cliché you can think of into the mix. The result is the most soothingly predictable geopolitical thriller imaginable.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-250-02361-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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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Greed, love, and extrasensory abilities combine in two middling mysteries.

LABYRINTH

Coulter’s treasured FBI agents take on two cases marked by danger and personal involvement.

Dillon Savitch and his wife, Lacey Sherlock, have special abilities that have served them well in law enforcement (Paradox, 2018, etc.). But that doesn't prevent Sherlock’s car from hitting a running man after having been struck by a speeding SUV that runs a red light. The runner, though clearly injured, continues on his way and disappears. Not so the SUV driver, a security engineer for the Bexholt Group, which has ties to government agencies. Sherlock’s own concussion causes memory loss so severe that she doesn’t recognize Savitch or remember their son, Sean. The whole incident seems more suspicious when a blood test from the splatter of the man Sherlock hit reveals that he’s Justice Cummings, an analyst for the CIA. The agency’s refusal to cooperate makes Savitch certain that Bexholt is involved in a deep-laid plot. Meanwhile, Special Agent Griffin Hammersmith is visiting friends who run a cafe in the touristy Virginia town of Gaffers Ridge. Hammersmith, who has psychic abilities, is taken aback when he hears in his mind a woman’s cry for help. Reporter Carson DeSilva, who came to the area to interview a Nobel Prize winner, also has psychic abilities, and she overhears the thoughts of Rafer Bodine, a young man who has apparently kidnapped and possibly murdered three teenage girls. Unluckily, she blurts out her thoughts, and she’s snatched and tied up in a cellar by Bodine. Bodine may be a killer, but he’s also the nephew of the sheriff and the son of the local bigwig. So the sheriff arrests Hammersmith and refuses to accept his FBI credentials. Bodine's mother has psychic powers strong enough to kill, but she meets her match in Hammersmith, DeSilva, Savitch, and Sherlock.

Greed, love, and extrasensory abilities combine in two middling mysteries.

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-9365-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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