WIN by Harlan Coben

March 31, 2021

In this #1 New York Times bestselling thriller from Harlan Coben, a dead man’s secrets fall into the hands of a vigilante antihero—drawing him down a dangerous road.

Over twenty years ago, the heiress Patricia Lockwood was abducted during a robbery of her family’s estate, then locked inside an isolated cabin for months. Patricia escaped, but so did her captors — and the items stolen from her family were never recovered. 

Until now. On the Upper West Side, a recluse is found murdered in his penthouse apartment, alongside two objects of note: a stolen Vermeer painting and a leather suitcase bearing the initials WHL3. For the first time in years, the authorities have a lead — not only on Patricia’s kidnapping, but also on another FBI cold case — with the suitcase and painting both pointing them toward one man.

Windsor Horne Lockwood III — or Win, as his few friends call him — doesn’t know how his suitcase and his family’s stolen painting ended up with a dead man. But his interest is piqued, especially when the FBI tells him that the man who kidnapped his cousin was also behind an act of domestic terrorism — and that the conspirators may still be at large. The two cases have baffled the FBI for decades, but Win has three things the FBI doesn’t: a personal connection to the case; an ungodly fortune; and his own unique brand of justice. 

The very versatile Harlan Coben presents a new character in his latest book. He uses his Myron Bolitar series of novels as a point of departure to give life to Windsor Home Lockwood III. or Win as he is called. Win had the good fortune to be born a member of the old money super rich crowd. He has no need to work but has kept himself busy and one of his skills is knowledge of most of the unarmed offensive techniques that exist including karate, Jiu Jitsu and others. A veritable walking weapon but not a bully. He counts Myron as one of his good friends and there are enough references to  Bolitar and his sayings and opinions to solidify the relationship. Myron is an ex-basketball player who has become a sports agent and continually finds himself involved in solving murders for his clients. The initial novel with Win puts him into a similar position having to investigate not only murder but decades old disappearances of people.     

Twenty years ago Win’s cousin Patricia Lockwood was abducted during a home robbery of her house and kept in a remote cabin for several months subject to constant rape. She managed to escape but neither the attackers nor the items they stole during the robbery were ever found. Fast forward to the present when a rich recluse was found murdered in his upscale westside Manhattan apartment. When the police arrive, they find a painting by Vermeer and a leather suitcase both traced to Win Lockwood. He decides to look into the situation and finds himself involved with the disappearance of six people and his cousin’s kidnapping all occurring at the same time about twenty years ago.     

The novel utilizes Win as the sole narrator and he is given a wisecracking personality as well as a showcase for the wisdom of Myron Bolitar, who does not appear but is referenced several times. I’m in the position of being a fan of the author reading everything he writes. I therefore look forward to Win joining Harlan Coben’s list of go to characters and getting his share of adventure either with or without Myron.

3/2021 Paul Lane

WIN by Harlan Coben. Grand Central Publishing (March 16, 2021). ISBN: 978-1538748213. 384 pages.







INFINITE by Brian Freeman

March 12, 2021

From the publisher:

From bestselling author Brian Freeman comes an explosive new psychological thriller that pushes the limits of reality as we know it.

One rainy night, the unthinkable happens: Dylan Moran’s car plunges off the road into a raging river, his beautiful wife drowning as he struggles to shore.

In the aftermath, through his grief, Dylan experiences sudden, strange visions: wherever he goes, he’s haunted by glimpses of himself. Dylan initially chalks it up to trauma, but that changes when he runs into a psychiatrist who claims he’s her patient. She says he has been undergoing a unique hypnotherapy treatment built on the idea that with every choice, he creates an infinite number of parallel universes.

Now those parallel universes are unlocked―and Dylan’s doppelgänger has staked a claim to his world. Can Dylan use these alternate realities to get a second chance at the life that was stolen from him? Or will he lose himself…to himself?

Brian Freeman has proven himself a very versatile author with novels to his credit covering a wide variety of themes. He is a writer who is at the very top of his game and with Infinite continues to retain his place with his many readers. 

The book moves into two distinct areas. One is that of a fascinating psychological story and the other into a theme that is science fiction at its best. The science fiction part is that of the existence of parallel worlds running concurrently with all others. That is the lives of the inhabitants constantly touch on all possibilities that may present themselves. If a person is struck by a car in one existence in another the accident does not occur and events proceed in both worlds dependent upon what has happened. The number of parallel worlds that exist are infinite and always expanding to cover event changes.     

Dylan Moran experiences the horrible situation of his wife dying in an auto accident occurring in a major storm. Very much in love with her Dylan allows himself to be drawn into the theory of alternate worlds when he meets a woman on the street who claims that she is his psychiatrist and has introduced him to her work on the existence of multi universes. He does not know the woman and has no recollection of ever meeting her but latches onto the prospect of finding a world where his wife has survived the accident.     

The reader is quickly drawn into Dylan’s transfer into different worlds searching for his wife. The wide-ranging action is handled very well by the author with his readers glued to a novel that is the very essence of an all-nighter that keeps them reading until a very logical ending is reached. Five stars of course and leaving his readers ready and willing to get his next book as soon as published.

3/2021 Paul Lane

INFINITE by Brian Freeman. Thomas & Mercer (March 1, 2021). ISBN: 978-1542023863. 336 pages.







THE COPPER ROAD: Beyond the Promise by Richard Buxton

February 12, 2021

Shire’s Union, Book 2

From the publisher:

Shire is far, far from home, his old life in Victorian England a fading memory. To keep a promise to his childhood love, he’s sailed an ocean and battled through war-torn America.

He’s kept his promise, but now Clara’s pushing him away.
The war won’t let him go.

Fighting for the Union and his friends, Shire must survive the brutal campaign for Atlanta and imagine a future without her.

After a violent end to a cruel marriage, Clara is free from her husband but not from his ghost. All that is left to her is Comrie, her home in the Tennessee hills. But the war relentlessly steals away its treasures and its people.

Tod, a captured Rebel, escapes in Pennsylvania. His adventures on the roads and rivers back to his regiment cast the Civil War in a new light. Does he still have the will to fight?

Three young lives become wrapped in the Rebels’ desperate need for copper. Friendships, loyalty and love will be tested beyond breaking point. Shire has new promises to keep.

The Copper Road is the second novel from award winning writer Richard Buxton. Book one of Shire’s Union, Whirligig, was shortlisted for the Rubery International Book Award.

Richard Buxton who is not a citizen of the United States nor resides there gives us an extremely well-researched novel set in the final months of the Civil war that engulfed the U.S. in the 1860s. A slight kinship is to the Stephen Crane The Red Badge of Courage which dealt with a young soldier finding the courage to go into combat. The difference in the books is that Buxton presents combat as a horror involving killing in large quantities with dead and maimed men spread out over what are just killing fields. There is nothing noble about the death depicted in his novel.   

Shire is a young man that has followed Clara, a childhood friend of his, from England to the United States in order to care for her.  Clara has married and left for America to be with her new husband, a man not exactly enamored by his prospective father-in-law and also Shire. Due to circumstances Shire finds himself a soldier fighting for the north in the Civil war raging when he arrives.  At the same time, Clara’s new husband has been killed in the war placing his widow as head of property he owns in the state of Tennessee.      

A third character, Tod, enters the picture as he is escaping from a Yankee prison of war train taking Confederate prisoners to incarceration. The novel tells the stories of the three principal characters as their lives interwind in the midst of the war.  Tod and Shire somehow meet in the midst of combat, each fighting for a different army and immediately form a liking for each other which brings them together over the near future. Clara and Tod also meet when both are passengers on a steamboat and are drawn into a sexual encounter which has bearing later on.     

Allowing for the literary license which depends on farfetched coincidences to occur at the proper times Buxton’s book is an interesting read. It is not an all-night draw due to several over-long descriptions of different situations but is a novel that is sufficiently interesting for the well-done descriptions of actual military events of the war.

2/2021 Paul Lane

THE COPPER ROAD: Beyond the Promise by Richard Buxton. Ocoee Publishing (July 23, 2020). ISBN: 978-0995769335. 442 pages.






TWENTY by James Grippando

February 10, 2021

Jack Swyteck Novel, Book 17

From the publisher:

Jack Swyteck and his family are caught in the crossfire after a deadly school shooting claims twenty casualties—Florida’s fifth mass shooting in as many years—in this provocative and timely thriller from Harper Lee Prize–winner James Grippando that touches on some of the most contentious issues roiling America today.

It is the message every parent of a school-age child fears: “Active Shooter on Campus.” 

Jack Swyteck is at his office when he receives the emergency text from Riverside Day School. Both his daughter, Righley, and his wife, FBI agent Andie Henning, are in danger. Andie is in the school’s rec center when she hears the fire alarms, then loud popping noises and screams coming from the hallway. A trained law-enforcement officer, Andie knows she’s supposed to stay locked down inside the room. But Righley is in her kindergarten classroom and Andie must get her to safety.

The tragedy prompts mass hysteria—and dangerous speculation. The police haven’t identified the shooter, but they find a handgun on the school grounds registered to a parent, a Muslim man named Amir Khoury. News of the gun and its owner leaks and quickly goes viral. Within minutes Al Qaeda claims responsibility. Andie is shocked—Amir is married to her friend, Lilly, a WASP whose bloodline goes back to the American Revolution. 

When Xavier, Amir and Lilly’s oldest child and an eighteen-year-old senior at Riverside confesses to the crime, the local community’s anti-Muslim fervor explodes to levels unseen since 9/11. Terrified for her son’s life, Lilly asks Jack to step in. A seasoned defense attorney with a passion to see justice done, he’s taken on plenty of complicated cases. Xavier’s, however, is not one he’s inclined to take—until an old friend who lost his daughter in the shooting tells him that he must.  

With the public calling for blood and prosecutors confident their case is air tight, Jack must unearth the Khourys’ family secrets in order to expose the shocking truth and save his client from certain death. But he may not be able to save everyone—including himself.

Twenty is the 17th novel James Grippando has published featuring Jack Swyteck and his family as the centers of the story. The title of the book is a reference to the twentieth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, events that forced the U.S. and its allies to begin a war against radical terrorism. I came away from reading this novel with the impression that Grippando, definitely a top-tier author of books, has somehow surpassed himself coming out with the gripping read to top all gripping reads.

The story begins with a mass shooting at a private school in Miami, and one that is attended by Swyteck’s daughter Righley who is a kindergartener there. Both Jack and his wife Andie find out about the shooting and rush over to the school to ascertain that their daughter is not hurt. Andie is an agent for the FBI but is not permitted to carry her gun when entering school grounds. She reacts instinctively by just standing guard at the kindergarten area holding a fire extinguisher as the only weapon she can put her hands on.

When the crisis is calmed one of the high school boys stands up and admits he did the shooting. With the deaths and wounding are tallied up the parents scream for blood calling for an immediate death sentence for the boy that confessed. While Jack is totally against representing the confessed killer, he is talked into it by one of the parents of a girl wounded in the attack. The rationale for the request is that it will probably spare all concerned from having their children forced to testify over and over again about the attack if the death penalty is sought by the prosecution. If the defendant pleads guilty in exchange for multiple life sentences it will end quickly and allow those grieving to come to grips with their anguish.

Public opinion is slanted by the fact that the father of the boy confessing to the shootings is Muslim and first opinions postulate that he radicalized his son and masterminded the murders. With the twentieth anniversary of 9/11 coming up it is not difficult to read terrorist activity into an already flammable situation which is described very well by the author. The reader will not be able to absent himself or herself from getting on the emotional rollercoaster that is set up quite well by Grippando. An all nighter? How could it not be and then some.

2/2021 Paul Lane

TWENTY by James Grippando. Harper (January 5, 2021). ISBN: 978-0062915085. 384 pages.








January 14, 2021

David Slaton, Book 6

From the publisher:

USA Today bestselling author Ward Larsen’s globe-trotting, hard-hitting assassin, David Slaton, returns for another breathless adventure in Assassin’s Strike!

In a Syrian palace, the presidents of Russia and Iran undertake a clandestine meeting. No staff or advisors are permitted in the room. No records are kept. By necessity, however, there are two witnesses: the interpreters. The Russian, Ludmilla Kravchuk, returns to her hotel room burdened by what she has heard. When her Iranian counterpart is murdered before her eyes, Kravchuk fears she is next and goes into hiding in Syria.

The CIA gets word of the defection. Desperate to uncover the purpose of the meeting, they task their newest off-the-books operator―legendary assassin David Slaton―to undertake a daring rescue. Deep inside Syria’s war-torn borders, what Slaton finds is a plot that will tear the Middle East apart. And one that only he can stop.

Ward Larson has created one of the more interesting protagonists in fiction in the person of David Slaton. Slaton is an assassin, a very proficient one doing the bidding of his employers who were at first the Mosad, Israeli secret service, and currently the CIA. He was granted political asylum in the U.S. with the help of one of the top managers of the Central Intelligence Agency who suggested when doing so that they might ask certain professional favors from Slaton which he would be free to either accept or reject.

During a secret meeting between the presidents of Russia and Iran held in Syria certain information is exchanged between these men which only they and the two translators working the meeting are aware of. Ludmilla Kravchuk, the translator for Russia witnesses her Iranian counterpart killed after the meeting between the two presidents finishes. She realizes that the two translators have heard an exchange that must remain secret and makes the obvious decision that she must flee and via local contacts she had when in Syria previously gets the United States interested in getting her into the U.S. and hearing her story. Slaton’s supervisor thinks of him as the ideal individual to send into Syria to bring Ludmilla out. No problem in his accepting the job as the action is what he craves and goes after.

The story of David Slaton’s work in trying to effect Ludmilla’s escape brings to bear Ward Larson’s talent in creating bated breath action and another book by him that keeps the reader glued to the pages. In addition to bringing Ludmilla out of Syria Slaton must become involved in the situation described in the talks between the two presidents and attempt to rectify the problem. Events in the book move rapidly between Syria, Iraq, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. We can certainly look forward to more action-packed novels featuring David Slaton and the probability of all night glued to the books when they are published.

1/14/2021 Paul Lane

ASSASSIN’S STRIKE by Ward Larson.  Forge Books (August 18, 2020). ISBN: 978-0765391568. 336 pages.



THE PUSH by Ashley Audrain

January 5, 2021

From the publisher:

A tense, page-turning psychological drama about the making and breaking of a family, told through the eyes of a woman whose experience of motherhood is nothing at all what she hoped for–and everything she feared.

Blythe Connor is determined that she will be the warm, supportive mother she never had to her new baby Violet.

But in the thick of motherhood’s exhausting early days, Blythe doesn’t find the connection with her daughter she expected. She’s convinced that something is wrong with Violet–the little girl is distant, rejects affection, and becomes increasingly disruptive at preschool.

Or is it all in Blythe’s head? Her husband, Fox, says she is imagining things. Fox doesn’t see what Blythe sees; he sees a wife who is struggling to cope with the day-to-day challenges of being a mother. And the more Fox dismisses her fears, the more Blythe begins to question her own sanity…

Then their son Sam is born–and with him, Blythe has the natural maternal connection she’d always dreamed of. Even Violet seems to love her little brother. But when life as they know it is changed in an instant, the devastating fall-out forces Blythe to face the truth about herself, her past, and her daughter.

The Push is a rare and extraordinary gift to readers: a novel about the expectations of motherhood we’re taught not to challenge and what really happens behind the closed doors of even the most perfect-looking families. It’s impossible to put down and impossible to forget.

Three generations of women have difficulties with motherhood and their stories intertwine in this very dark debut novel.

Blythe’s mother, Cecelia, left when she was eleven years old, and Blythe assumes she probably shouldn’t have children as her mother was not a very good role model. But their toxic relationship pales in comparison with Cecelia’s relationship with her mother, Etta.

There is an air of foreboding as Blythe’s story continues when Fox, Blythe’s gentle husband of three years, convinces her that it is time to have a baby. Blythe sees other mothers with their babies and hopes that she, too, will be like them. But Blythe never feels any kind of connection to her baby daughter, Violet, although Fox is immediately enamored.

As Blythe sinks into depression, Fox is convinced that she just doesn’t love the baby enough. There are some behavioral issues that Blythe sees in Violet that increase as she starts school, but Fox always turns a blind eye. Then Blythe has a son, Sam, and her maternal feelings for him are real and deep. Things still aren’t good with Violet, though, or with the marriage, and everything spirals out of control when tragedy strikes the family.

The marriage implodes and Blythe is having serious difficulties. This is not your typical tale of motherhood by any means, and the superlative writing makes this a gripping, unforgettable story indeed.

Verdict: For readers who enjoyed the darkness of My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite, Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh, or Jack of Spades by Joyce Carol Oates.

©Library Journal, 2021

1/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE PUSH by Ashley Audrain. Viking (January 5, 2021). ISBN 978-0735239890. 320p.




V2 by Robert Harris

December 14, 2020

From the publisher:

The first rocket will take five minutes to hit London.
You have six minutes to stop the second.

From the best-selling author of Fatherland and Munich comes a WWII thriller about a German rocket engineer, a former actress turned British spy, and the Nazi rocket program.

Rudi Graf is an engineer who always dreamed of sending rockets to the moon. But instead, he finds himself working alongside Wernher von Braun, launching V2 rockets at London for the Nazis from a bleak seaside town in occupied Holland. As the SS increases its scrutiny on the project, Graf, an engineer more than a sol – dier, has to muster all of his willpower to toe the party line. And when rumors of a defector circulate through the German ranks, Graf be – comes a prime suspect. 

Meanwhile, Kay Caton-Walsh, a young English intelligence officer, is living through the turmoil of war. After she and her lover, an RAF officer, are caught in a V2 attack, she volunteers to ship out for newly liberated Bel – gium. Armed with little more than a slide rule and a few equations, Kay and her colleagues hope to locate and destroy the launch sites. But at this stage in the war it’s hard to know who, if anyone, she can trust.

As the death toll soars, these twin stories play out against the background of the German missile campaign during the Second World War. And what the reader comes to understand is that Kay’s and Graf’s destinies are on a collision course

Robert Harris’ latest novel touches on a subject grounded in World War 2 that, while familiar to most people has not generally been touched upon.  This is the development of the V2 rocket by Germany which was utilized to bomb both London and Antwerp.  While regular bombing runs by planes killed many more people and did considerably more damage to cities it was the silent approach of the V2 and its sudden attack that probably was more frightening.       

Germany was losing the war and had lost a great deal of their airpower in combat when Hitler began looking for a weapon that would turn the tide in his favor.  The V2 seemed to offer a possible answer and investment in the process came from both the German nation as well as independently from the army. First attempts at using the V2 were from Peenemunde but then moved to a point closer to both Antwerp and London in occupied Holland.     

Harris utilizes two people; one German the other British to focus on telling the story.  Willi Graf, by education, is a rocket engineer and is stationed at the launch site for Germany.  He freely states that his interests do not really lie with the use of the V2 as a weapon but as a step in the direction of space travel.  He does do his job in helping the rocket achieve its place as a weapon of war.  Kay Connolly is British and although once an actress is now an intelligence officer.  She is recruited for a position with a group to be stationed in Belgium that will attempt to develop systems to destroy the V2launch system.      

The novel goes back and forth between the two individuals recreating the duel between those firing the V2 and those that are working to try and stop them.  Harris brings both protagonists to life for the reader.  We learn about their personal interests and of course, their interests in making the work they are involved in helpful in advancing the war effort. Werner von Braun a key individual in the American rocket program after the war has his place as the officer in charge and the guiding light for the German effort. Descriptions of the technical side of building a successful rocket are there and written in language that is understandable by the reader allowing him or her to more fully enjoy the novel. Certainly, a five-star book and one continuing Harris’ position as an author at the top of his game.

12/2020 Paul Lane

V2 by Robert Harris. Knopf (November 17, 2020). ISBN: 978-0525656715. 320 pages.







MCGARVEY by David Hagberg

December 8, 2020

From the publisher:

A Kirk McGarvey Novel, Book 25

“The grand master of the contemporary thriller.” ―Douglas Preston, #1 New York Times bestselling author

When Kirk McGarvey investigates the mysterious death of his parents so many years ago, he uncovers long-buried secrets that put him head to head and mano a mano with . . . Vladimir Putin.

After Mac calls Putin out, the Russian dictator decides he wants him dead. Battling Russian hit squads as well as enemies at home, McGarvey must fight like the devil to save himself, his friends, and the US of A in this engrossing international thriller from David Hagberg.

Kirk McGarvey is a long time employee of the CIA. He is depicted as having held several positions during his tenure including the head of the company. He has had an adventurous existence including divorce, the killing of his family, and his mother and father. He has found a new love with marriage to Pete, the woman. Pete happens to also be a member of the CIA and David Hagberg is able to include her along with Kirk in his work for the company.     

What has never been successfully answered is why his mother and father were killed. They both worked for the US government and were reputed to have built a defensive instrument that would have been able to negate missile attacks by Russia. The supposition at the time of their murders was that it was done by Russia to prevent the actual building of the instrument placing them at a disadvantage in the cold war with the U.S.     

Now years later it looks like Russia is attempting to assassinate McGarvey with the circumstances appearing to have a connection with the device his parents were working on. Moving into action, one of the first things Kirk does is actually place a call to Vladimir Putin, the Russian dictator and declare war on him. Now this, of course, galvanizes Putin into ramping up the attack on McGarvey. The reactions of both Kirk and the Russians charged with killing him as well as his wife are described in a manner that ratchets up the action to a level that simply keeps the reader glued to the pages and awaiting the ending with proverbial bated breath.      

With Putin involved with attempting to assassinate Kirk, the action runs swiftly between points in the United States and then into Russia where Putin is encountered and the climax is neatly set up. Wanting more of this type of action it is sad to note that Hagberg passed away after a lifetime of writing spy and counterespionage novels under his own name as well as several others, including Sean Flannery. He will certainly be missed although there are a sufficient number of novels to keep a reader busy catching up on this very prolific author’s work.

12/2020 Paul Lane

MCGARVEY by David Hagberg. Forge Books (November 24, 2020). ISBN: 978-0765394200. 336 pages.






DAYLIGHT by David Baldacci

December 4, 2020

From the publisher:

Atlee Pine Thrillers, Book 3

FBI Agent Atlee Pine’s search for her sister Mercy clashes with military investigator John Puller’s high-stakes case, leading them both deep into a global conspiracy — from which neither of them will escape unscathed.

For many long years, Atlee Pine was tormented by uncertainty after her twin sister, Mercy, was abducted at the age of six and never seen again. Now, just as Atlee is pressured to end her investigation into Mercy’s disappearance, she finally gets her most promising breakthrough yet: the identity of her sister’s kidnapper, Ito Vincenzo.

With time running out, Atlee and her assistant Carol Blum race to Vincenzo’s last known location in Trenton, New Jersey — and unknowingly stumble straight into John Puller’s case, blowing his arrest during a drug ring investigation involving a military installation.

Stunningly, Pine and Puller’s joint investigation uncovers a connection between Vincenzo’s family and a breathtaking scheme that strikes at the very heart of global democracy. Peeling back the layers of deceit, lies and cover-ups, Atlee finally discovers the truth about what happened to Mercy. And that truth will shock Pine to her very core.

In my long and pleasant experience reading novels written by David Baldacci, I have never come upon one that doesn’t capture the attention of the reader at the incept of the book. Nor one that disappoints with a badly conceived plot. “Daylight” continues this practice which makes the first recommendation I have is to get some coffee ready, get comfortable, and be prepared to read until finished.     

Two of the author’s main protagonists are combined in a conspiracy that reaches to the very pinnacle of the U.S. government, overseas, and throughout the 50 states. Atlee Pine is an FBI agent with years of experience and considered by her supervisors as a crack operator. She is assigned to an office in the interior section of the 48 contiguous states, but with permission, and to continue work on her cases has traveled far afield. As a 6-year-old she was subjected to the trauma of her parents being killed, and her twin sister Mercy being kidnapped. It has been 30 years since last seeing her sibling and at the opening of the novel, she requests a few days to investigate Mercy’s possible whereabouts and of course, if she is still alive.   

John Puller is a member of the U.S. Army and is an active military investigator. He has been working on an investigation of a case involving illegal practices at a large army base located in New Jersey. Not too strangely Atlee has come to New Jersey to pick up on the possible whereabouts of her missing sister and she and John Puller find that there are common factors in both of their investigations. They decide to pool their resources and in doing so come upon a conspiracy involving highly placed officials of the U.S. government, as well as many extremely wealthy and influential men and women. It is realized by both Puller and Pine that the arrangement if made public would shake the very foundations of the nation.  The first intimation is made when Puller calls upon a contact of his for help, a highly placed member of the military chiefs of staff, and finds that the man has been suddenly transferred out of his post at the Pentagon with only one day’s notice. This action signals that the conspiracy has reached a level that would be at the very apex of the U.S. government.     

The action is constant for both Atlee and Puller. They can be hurt and require recuperation time showing that they are human and not supermen. Baldacci easily pulls his readers into empathy for both. Pine is anguished into finding out if her missing sister is alive and where she is if so.  Puller causes a problem for his brother who was asked to help with some fact-finding. John is human in worrying about him when he loses contact and fears for his safety. An excellent and engrossing read and another milestone in the literary career of David Baldacci.

12/2020 Paul Lane

DAYLIGHT by David Baldacci. Grand Central Publishing (November 17, 2020). ISBN: 978-1538761694. 416 pages.







SNAKE ISLAND by Ben Hobson

October 31, 2020

From the publisher:

For fans of Cormac McCarthy, Phillip Meyer, Fargo, and Justified, a gritty rural noir thriller about family, drugs, and the legacy of violence.

In an isolated town on the coast of southern Australia, Vernon Moore and his wife, Penelope, live in retirement, haunted by an unspeakable act of violence that sent their son, Caleb, to serve time in prison and has driven the couple apart. Ashamed, they refuse to talk about him or visit, but when a close friend warns Vernon that Caleb has been savagely beaten, he has no choice but to act to protect their only child.

The perpetrator of the beating is a local thug from a crime family whose patriarch holds sway over the town, with the police in his pay. Everyone knows they trade in drugs. When Vernon maneuvers to negotiate a deal with the father, he makes a critical error. His mistake unleashes a cycle of violence that escalates to engulf the whole town, taking lives with it, revealing what has been hiding in plain sight in this picturesque rural community and threatening to overtake his son.

Told from shifting perspectives at a sprint, in language that sometimes approaches the simple profundity of parable, this gritty debut was hailed on its Australian publication as “a darkly illuminating thriller that soars across genre constraints . . . [and] engages with pressing contemporary issues while exploring timeless questions. Hobson writes as if his life depends on it” (The Australian).

This is the author’s second announced published book. It is an interesting concept coupled with some good writing. The story is set in Australia on the southwestern coast with the city of Melbourne fairly close to it. Vernon Moore and his wife Penelope are in retirement and living there. Their tranquility is interrupted when their son Caleb is arrested and imprisoned for beating up his wife. The couple have not visited him for two years and talk about how ashamed they are of his conduct.

The story begins when a close friend of Vernon advises him that Caleb has been beaten up by the son of a local crime family who apparently had looked to marry the girl who was beaten. The action against his son moves Vernon to do something about the situation with himself and his wife coming to the realization that the boy is their son and they can’t just desert him.

In a well-done narrative, Ben Hobson brings out the causes and effects that Vernon’s actions bring to his own family and to others in the area. In turn actions by the family of the man that beat up Caleb bring in two men from Melbourne who are suppliers of drugs to them. The act causes an auto crash that causes the drugs being brought in to disappear with the Melbourne gangsters doing what they deem necessary to recoup their goods.

The simple act of trying to help Caleb brings in the local police, with the fact that the Sargent in charge is a customer of the Melbourne group, a clergyman intent on bringing peace to everyone involved, and other members of the small community living there. Deaths occur due to the conflicting actions of those concerned and an interesting tale comes to its conclusion.

10/2020 Paul Lane

SNAKE ISLAND by Ben Hobson. Arcade Crimewise (October 20, 2020). ISBN: 978-1950691715. 304 pages.