Ricciardi's hero is a killer thriller fans will root for.

SHADOW TARGET

CIA hero Jake Keller gets off to a rough start in his fourth fast-moving adventure.

Keller is the only survivor of a mountainside plane crash in the French Alps and barely evades Russian bad guys searching the wreckage of what they hope looks like an accident. But he knows it was no such thing, as someone has been killing off CIA paramilitary officers like him. Now they specifically want to kill Keller, their main obstacle in killing the president when he visits London—which president they mean eventually becomes clear. Keller is the consummate good guy, “a lethal threat to any and all who wished to harm America.” At only 30 years old, he’s already “died” once under the name Zac Miller and is the best at what he does—a “Boy Scout” who “gets his claws into something [and] doesn’t let go,” as one Russian gripes to another. Indeed, he puts a guy’s eye out with his thumb, but it was necessary under the circumstances. But he’s no mindless killing machine—a colleague tells him, “Your compassion is what makes you special.” He’s also blessed with blind luck stretching all the way back to Warning Light (2018). But will he be lucky in love? A CIA woman has the hots for him while he wants to restart his love life with Geneviève, who’s pissed that he hasn’t stayed in touch with her. Of course, he’s been officially dead for two years—let’s see if that excuse flies. Meanwhile, the enemy has a mole in the CIA. And for once, Keller must rely on teamwork to quash the assassination plot. That may even include “working with the woman he loved.” How sweet. Really, he’s a likable character in a profession where people “dance on the razor’s edge for a living.”

Ricciardi's hero is a killer thriller fans will root for.

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984804-69-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

As attuned as always to current geopolitical concerns, but substantially less compelling than Silva's previous novels.

THE CELLIST

Gabriel Allon goes after the deadliest weapon at the Russian president’s disposal—his money.

When CIA agent–turned–art dealer Sarah Bancroft finds the dead body of Viktor Orlov, a wealthy newspaper publisher and Russian dissident, the grim discovery leads Gabriel Allon, the head of Israel’s intelligence service, to a treasure trove of documents detailing massive financial crimes. Once he tracks down the woman who leaked these documents, Gabriel may finally have the tools he needs to take down the autocrat in the Kremlin. “A nuclear bomb can only be dropped once. But money can be wielded every day with no fallout and no threat of mutually assured destruction.” This bit of wisdom comes from a Russian operative Gabriel captured in The Other Woman (2018), and Silva makes a persuasive case that the best way to neutralize the threat of troll farms and disinformation campaigns is to starve these operations of cash. But this is a thriller, not an essay in Foreign Policy. It turns out that money laundering isn’t inherently exciting, and Silva does little to make it so. Identifying the shadowy figure who manages the Russian president’s fortune is easy, as is infiltrating his world. All the characters in this universe are types, but most of them are crafted with verisimilitude sufficient to keep the reader engaged. The titular cellist, Isabel Brenner, is a beautiful blond blank. It’s not at all clear why she makes the transition from functionary at a dirty bank to amateur spy willing to risk her life to ruin oligarchs. In previous novels, Silva wove in chapters written from the points of view of the bad guys. This technique creates dramatic irony, and it has given us some truly terrific villains—horrifying sadists and gleeful monsters of corruption who make excellent foils for the nearly superhuman Gabriel. Past installments have also given Gabriel's team more to do, and it’s impossible not to miss them and their spycraft.

As attuned as always to current geopolitical concerns, but substantially less compelling than Silva's previous novels.

Pub Date: July 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-283486-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

More of a curiosity for political junkies than a satisfying story of international intrigue.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 22

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

WHILE JUSTICE SLEEPS

A progressive superstar pens her first political thriller.

Anyone who follows the news knows Abrams as a politician and voting rights activist. She's less well known as a novelist. Using the pseudonym Selena Montgomery, Abrams has published several works of romantic suspense. Her new novel begins when Supreme Court Justice Howard Wynn falls into a coma. His clerk Avery Keene is shocked to discover that her boss has made her his legal guardian and granted her power of attorney. The fate of one of the most powerful men in the world is in her hands—and her life is in danger. Abrams gives us nefarious doings in the world of biotech, a president with autocratic tendencies and questionable ethics, and a young woman struggling to unravel a conspiracy while staying one step ahead of the people who want her out of the way. Unfortunately, the author doesn't weave these intriguing elements into an enjoyable whole. Abrams makes some odd word choices, such as this: “The intricate knot she had twisted into her hair that morning bobbed cunningly as she neared her office.” The adverb cunningly is mystifying, and Abrams uses it in a similar way later on. There are disorienting shifts in point of view. And Abrams lavishes a great deal of attention on details that simply don’t matter, which makes the pace painfully slow. This is a fatal flaw in a suspense novel, but it may not be the most frustrating aspect of this book. For a protagonist who has gotten where she is by being smart, Avery makes some stunningly poor decisions. For example, the fact that she has a photographic memory is an important plot point and is clearly a factor in Justice Wynn’s decision to enlist her help. When she finds a piece of paper upon which is printed a long string of characters and the words "BURN UPON REVIEW," Avery memorizes the lines of numbers and letters—and then, even though she knows she’s being surveilled, she snaps a shot of the paper with her phone, thereby making the whole business of setting it on fire quite pointless.

More of a curiosity for political junkies than a satisfying story of international intrigue.

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-385-54657-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

more