Greaney dumps a ton of trouble on the hero, and there’s never a dull page.

ARMORED

The title doesn’t say much. Greaney could accurately have called this military thriller Bloodbath: A Love Story.

Josh Duffy loses a leg doing mercenary work in Lebanon, so three years later he has sunk to being “the sheriff of Tysons Galleria” in Virginia, ashamed that he can’t fully provide for his wife, Nikki, and their two children. She’s an ex-Army captain and chopper pilot who’d been shot down in Iraq and rescued by—wait for it—Josh Duffy. True love and hard times follow; a nasty, failed protection detail in the Middle East leaves the protectee dead and Josh’s life forever changed. Now Nikki is a full-time mom running a small cleaning business to tide them over. Then Duffy has a seemingly chance encounter with another merc at the mall who expresses shock that “Duff from Jalalabad is a fucking mall cop!” The friend quickly sets him up with Armored Saint, which has a rep of being the worst private military contractor on the planet. “Armored Saint? Those guys are psychos,” says Duffy. “This gig is dog shit,” says his old pal, “but it pays through the roof” and will get Duffy out of his immediate financial straits. Desperate, he signs up for a three-week gig to lead one of three teams protecting a U.N. delegation that hopes to broker peace among warring cartels in Mexico’s Sierra Madre. It should be a straightforward mission and easy money. But even before they reach the treacherous ridge called the Devil’s Spine, guns start blazing and bodies start falling. Josh’s own team is a handful, questioning his leadership with smartass comments even before they learn about his prosthetic leg. Meanwhile, Josh and Nikki are often on the phone as he tries with increasing difficulty to reassure her that all is well. She wants him home safely, but at the rate things are going, he’ll come home in a box. How she shows her fierce love for her husband is both implausible and contrived, but it’s great fun for the reader.

Greaney dumps a ton of trouble on the hero, and there’s never a dull page.

Pub Date: July 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43687-5

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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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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A smart summer escape.

PORTRAIT OF AN UNKNOWN WOMAN

Silva’s latest Gabriel Allon novel is a bit of a throwback—in the best possible way.

One-time assassin and legendary spymaster Gabriel Allon has finally retired. After saying farewell to his friends and colleagues in Israel, he moves with his wife, Chiara, and their two young children to a piano nobile overlooking Venice’s Grand Canal. His plan is to return to the workshop where he learned to restore paintings as an employee—but only after he spends several weeks recovering from the bullet wound that left him dead for several minutes in The Cellist (2021). Of course, no one expects Gabriel to entirely withdraw from the field, and, sure enough, a call from his friend and occasional asset Julian Isherwood sends him racing around the globe on the trail of art forgers who are willing to kill to protect their extremely lucrative enterprise. Silva provides plenty of thrills and, as usual, offers a glimpse into the lifestyles of the outrageously wealthy. In the early books in this series, it was Gabriel’s work as an art restorer that set him apart from other action heroes, and his return to that world is the most rewarding part of this installment. It is true that, at this point in his storied career, Gabriel has become a nearly mythic figure. And Silva is counting on a lot of love—and willing suspension of disbelief—when Gabriel whips up four old master canvases that fool the world’s leading art experts as a lure for the syndicate selling fake paintings. That said, as Silva explains in an author’s note, the art market is rife with secrecy, subterfuge, and wishful thinking, in no small part because it is almost entirely unregulated. And, if anyone can crank out a Titian, a Tintoretto, a Gentileschi, and a Veronese in a matter of days, it’s Gabriel Allon. The author’s longtime fans may breathe a sigh of relief that this entry is relatively free of politics and the pandemic is nowhere in sight.

A smart summer escape.

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-283485-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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