All in all, a crackling good yarn. Author Mills proves himself a worthy successor to carry on the series.

ORDER TO KILL

Series creator Flynn died in 2013, but Mitch Rapp lives on in this 15th chronicle (The Survivor, 2015, etc.) of the legendary CIA agent’s exploits.

When the CIA needs someone to keep Pakistani nukes out of terrorists’ hands, Rapp is clearly their go-to guy. He is “feared by even the most powerful men in the world.” This includes Russian President Maxim Vladimirovich Krupin, who calculates that exploding rogue nukes that can’t be traced back to him might serve his dastardly geopolitical aims. A half-dozen A-bombs could destroy enough Middle Eastern oil fields to divert huge revenues to Russia. So Krupin lines up the best man to foil Rapp: a talented killer named Grisha Azarov, who tells Krupin that Rapp has “no discernible weaknesses. His enemies…are all dead.” But then Azarov is no weenie himself, and the two adversaries make for a terrific matchup. Even the minor characters are colorful, especially Craig Bailer, an auto mechanic who has three Ph.D.s and arms covered with tattoos. Usually “the smartest guy in the room,” he has the best line in the book when he tells Rapp, “It’s a beautiful night and we have a cooler full of beer and a stolen A-bomb. It don’t get any better than that.” Rapp easily sidelines the American terrorist Eric Jesem and goes to extraordinary and creative lengths to impersonate him. That’s as entertaining as the book’s many action scenes, and it enhances his hero creds—but then he ruins it in one scene where he drills a slug through the heart of someone who simply doesn’t deserve it. But the inevitable confrontation between Rapp and Azarov is what thriller readers live for: tense and dramatic with a nice twist.

All in all, a crackling good yarn. Author Mills proves himself a worthy successor to carry on the series.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 9781476783482

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Emily Bestler/Atria

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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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