Top-drawer crime fiction. The authors are tough on the hero, but the hero is tough.

THE RED BOOK

Patterson and Ellis put their characters through hell in this hard-edged second installment of their Black Book series after The Black Book (2017).

A young girl is one of four people gunned down in a “very, very bad” K-Town drive-by shooting in Chicago. Police are under intense political pressure to solve it, so Detective Billy Harney is assigned to the Special Operations Section to put the brakes on the gang violence on the West Side. His new partner is Detective Carla Griffin, whom colleagues describe as “sober as an undertaker” and “as fun as a case of hemorrhoids.” And she looks like the last thing he needs, a pill popper. (But is she?) Department muckety-mucks want Harney to fail, and Griffin is supposed to spy on him. The poor guy already has a hell of a backstory: His daughter died and his wife committed suicide (or did she?) four years earlier, he’s been shot in the head, charged with murder (and exonerated), and helped put his own father in prison. (Nothing like a tormented hero!) Now the deaths still haunt him while he and Griffin begin to suspect they’re not looking at a simple turf war starring the Imperial Gangster Nation. Meanwhile, the captain in Internal Affairs is deep in the pocket of some bad guys who run an international human trafficking ring, and he loathes Harney. The protagonist is lucky to have Patti, his sister and fellow detective, as his one reliable friend who lets him know he’s being set up. The authors do masterful work creating flawed characters to root for or against, and they certainly pile up the troubles for Billy Harney. Abundant nasty twists will hold readers’ rapt attention in this dark, violent, and fast-moving thriller.

Top-drawer crime fiction. The authors are tough on the hero, but the hero is tough.

Pub Date: March 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49940-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

Murder most foul and mayhem most entertaining. Another worthy page-turner from a protean master.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 14

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2021

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

BILLY SUMMERS

The ever prolific King moves from his trademark horror into the realm of the hard-boiled noir thriller.

“He’s not a normal person. He’s a hired assassin, and if he doesn’t think like who and what he is, he’ll never get clear.” So writes King of his title character, whom the Las Vegas mob has brought in to rub out another hired gun who’s been caught and is likely to talk. Billy, who goes by several names, is a complex man, a Marine veteran of the Iraq War who’s seen friends blown to pieces; he’s perhaps numbed by PTSD, but he’s goal-oriented. He’s also a reader—Zola’s novel Thérèse Raquin figures as a MacGuffin—which sets his employer’s wheels spinning: If a reader, then why not have him pretend he’s a writer while he’s waiting for the perfect moment to make his hit? It wouldn’t be the first writer, real or imagined, King has pressed into service, and if Billy is no Jack Torrance, there’s a lovely, subtle hint of the Overlook Hotel and its spectral occupants at the end of the yarn. It’s no spoiler to say that whereas Billy carries out the hit with grim precision, things go squirrelly, complicated by his rescue of a young woman—Alice—after she’s been roofied and raped. Billy’s revenge on her behalf is less than sweet. As a memoir grows in his laptop, Billy becomes more confident as a writer: “He doesn’t know what anyone else might think, but Billy thinks it’s good,” King writes of one day’s output. “And good that it’s awful, because awful is sometimes the truth. He guesses he really is a writer now, because that’s a writer’s thought.” Billy’s art becomes life as Alice begins to take an increasingly important part in it, crisscrossing the country with him to carry out a final hit on an errant bad guy: “He flopped back on the sofa, kicked once, and fell on the floor. His days of raping children and murdering sons and God knew what else were over.” That story within a story has a nice twist, and Billy’s battered copy of Zola’s book plays a part, too.

Murder most foul and mayhem most entertaining. Another worthy page-turner from a protean master.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982173-61-6

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

Another adventure-packed treat for fans of the Ryan family.

TOM CLANCY CHAIN OF COMMAND

A kidnapping prompts President Jack Ryan to temporarily step aside.

Criminals force “some poor schmuck” to fly his Cessna toward the White House and the Capitol, and a pair of F-16s prepare to shoot him down. So begins a convoluted plot to stop President Ryan from pushing through a Pharma Independence bill vehemently opposed by Indian foreign minister Varma. (Varma vs. Pharma—hmm.) Anyway, the bad guys kidnap first lady Cathy Ryan, and what’s a Clancy thriller without fighting and skulduggery in far-flung reaches of the world, with do-good American doctors who stand to be executed as no-good spies in a part of Afghanistan so remote that even the Taliban doesn’t go there? As fans will remember, Cathy, a world-class ophthalmic surgeon, is the love of the president’s life. Knowing his own deep emotional involvement, he sees the need to temporarily cede constitutional power to the newly minted Vice President Dehart. (VP Hargrave has suddenly died.) Yes, the first lady might not survive—wherever she is—but the president must put country above all else. The plot even includes a possibly rogue Chinese cross-border incursion onto the Roof of the World, a testy top-level chat with China’s president, and an encounter with the Argentine border patrol. And with Aussies and Brits who’ve fought in Africa and who may kill Cathy, the story is like No Continent Left Behind. So yeah, the plot sort of holds together, but wouldn’t stopping the drug bill have been lots easier using the tried-and-true method of buying off a few U.S. senators? As a White House official muses, there’s “no easy explanation for human stupidity—or violence.” In other words, this is vintage Clancy, may he rest in peace, with plenty of fast-paced excitement in locales galore.

Another adventure-packed treat for fans of the Ryan family.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18816-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more