One darned thing after another keeps the Pitts in peril and will keep readers turning the pages.

CELTIC EMPIRE

The latest Clive and Dirk Cussler thriller (Shadow Tyrants, 2018, etc.) has Dirk Pitt and company trying to stave off the annihilation of half the human race in a continent-hopping adventure.

In 1334 B.C.E., a boat carrying Princess Meritaten flees Egypt to escape a deadly plague. She carries a mysterious substance, the Apium of Faras. In 2020, young boys are dying in El Salvador, and scientists are murdered when they try to test the local water. Pitt’s heroics start early when a sabotaged dam bursts and he saves a woman from drowning. As his fans know, Pitt is with NUMA, the National Underwater and Marine Agency. Later, a tanker sinks in the Detroit River, and the president orders NUMA to investigate. A NUMA diver explores the sunken wreck alone (bad idea!) and is murdered. Meanwhile, Evanna McKee, CEO of BioRem Global, is pushing her product, “microorganisms for pollution control.” Readers will quickly suss that she’s up to no good—Pitt realizes the murders must have something to do with the water samples—but the details fill out the story with near-constant action and threats. Children, all boys, are desperately ill in a Mumbai clinic. There are so many crises, Pitt’s children must help: Dirk Junior and his twin sister, Summer, dive into the croc- and criminal-infested Nile for NUMA-supported archaeological research and immediately bump into nefarious activity. Bad guys hunt for them in a burial chamber. The twins carry on the family tradition of bravery and resourcefulness, and Pitt’s wife, Congresswoman Loren Smith-Pitt, plays a smaller but significant role. The investigation leads to Loch Ness and then to a craggy ocean outcropping. “Find Meritaten,” a dying woman pleads to Pitt. “Then save us all.” The settings are colorful, the characters appealing or despicable as needed, and the action is both implausible and fun.

One darned thing after another keeps the Pitts in peril and will keep readers turning the pages.

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1899-4

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

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THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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THE BLACK ICE

Second tense, tightly wound tangle of a case for Hieronymous Bosch (The Black Echo, 1991). This time out, the LAPD homicide cop, who's been exiled to Hollywood Division for his bumptious behavior, sniffs out the bloody trail of the designer drug "black ice." Connelly (who covers crime for the Los Angeles Times) again flexes his knowledge of cop ways—and of cop-novel cliches. Cast from the hoary mold of the maverick cop, Bosch pushes his way onto the story's core case—the apparent suicide of a narc—despite warnings by top brass to lay off. Meanwhile, Bosch's boss, a prototypical pencil-pushing bureaucrat hoping to close out a majority of Hollywood's murder cases by New Year's Day, a week hence, assigns the detective a pile of open cases belonging to a useless drunk, Lou Porter. One of the cases, the slaying of an unidentified Hispanic, seems to tie in to the death of the narc, which Bosch begins to read as murder stemming from the narc's dirty involvement in black ice. When Porter is murdered shortly after Bosch speaks to him, and then the detective's love affair with an ambitious pathologist crashes, Bosch decides to head for Mexico, where clues to all three murders point. There, the well-oiled, ten- gear narrative really picks up speed as Bosch duels with corrupt cops; attends the bullfights; breaks into a fly-breeding lab that's the distribution center for Mexico's black-ice kingpin; and takes part in a raid on the kingpin's ranch that concludes with Bosch waving his jacket like a matador's cape at a killer bull on the rampage. But the kingpin escapes, leading to a not wholly unexpected twist—and to a touching assignation with the dead narc's widow. Expertly told, and involving enough—but lacking the sheer artistry and heart-clutching thrills of, say, David Lindsay's comparable Stuart Haydon series (Body of Evidence, etc.).

Pub Date: June 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-316-15382-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1993

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