A litany of sordid crimes that are both a MacGuffin for and a window into a chilling, compelling era.

WEDDING STATION

As Nazism tightens its grip on Germany, an English crime reporter tackles a handful of juicy stories.

Downing resumes the story of John Russell in a seventh Station novel, a prequel set many years before his spy work last seen in Masaryk Station (2013). In February 1933, reporter Russell is on a train when he and other passengers spot a raging fire in the distance. It’s the historic Reichstag fire; a moment later, the new chancellor, Adolf Hitler, and his information chief, Joseph Goebbels, emerge from a black Mercedes at the scene. Russell’s journalistic investigations play out against a backdrop of escalating violence and oppression. Downing's inclusion of episodes from the rise of Nazism and backstories involving Russell and his expatriate friends adds texture but slows the propulsive pace of the story. The castration and murder of young male prostitute Fredo Ratzel sends Russell in search of the man's missing roommate, Timo Baur. Divorce looms, meanwhile, for Russell and his estranged wife, Ilse, threatening his right to live in Germany. Although their relationship is amicable, Russell worries about Paul, their 6-year-old son. Through Ilse’s new partner, Russell meets war veteran Wilhelm Zollitsch, whose rebellious daughter, Lili, has disappeared. Is this the latest kidnapping by the SA, the Nazi paramilitary arm? A third provocative story that Russell is chasing involves the hit-and-run death of Konrad Mommsen, judged an accident by jaded Detective Kuzorra. Gaining access to Mommsen’s American widow, Donna, by serving as a translator in her police interview, Russell presses for more information.

A litany of sordid crimes that are both a MacGuffin for and a window into a chilling, compelling era.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-641-29107-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Soho Crime

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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It may be time for Silva's hero to retire from the field and let his protégés take over.

THE NEW GIRL

Gabriel Allon partners with a dubious ally in the Middle East.

When a 12-year-old is abducted from an exclusive private school in Geneva, Allon, head of Israeli intelligence, is among the first to know. The girl’s father is Khalid bin Mohammed, heir to the Saudi throne, and he wants Allon’s help. KBM was once feted as a reformer, ready to bring new industries and new freedoms to his country. When he makes his appeal to Allon, though, KBM is the prime suspect in the murder of a journalist. If KBM immediately makes you think of MBS, you are correct. Silva mentions Mohammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s real-life heir apparent, in a foreword. But anyone who recognizes KBM as a fictional echo of MBS might find this book to be more old news than fresh entertainment. In his last few novels, Silva has turned his attention to current world affairs, such as the rise of the new Russia and the threats of global terrorism. In novels like The Other Woman (2018) and House of Spies (2017), the author was inventive enough that these works felt compelling and original. And, in The Black Widow (2016), Silva wrote much of the story from the point of view of the French-born Israeli doctor Allon recruited for an undercover mission while also expanding the roles of a few familiar secondary characters. Allon is a wonderful creation. In the first several novels in this series, he posed as an art restorer while working for Israel’s intelligence service. He adopted a variety of personas and gave readers access to people and places few of us will ever see. Now that he’s a public figure who can no longer invent alter egos, his world is smaller and less fascinating. The pacing here is slow, and any sense of urgency is undercut by the matter of what’s at stake. Ultimately, this is a narrative about removing one horrible Saudi ruler in order to reinstate a less horrible Saudi ruler. This might be solid realpolitik, but it’s not terribly compelling fiction.

It may be time for Silva's hero to retire from the field and let his protégés take over.

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-283483-6

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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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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