Agent Will Brody throws caution to the wind and pursues a serial sniper who has been terrorizing Chicago for weeks. One misstep leads to an explosive encounter, and Brody finds himself in a strange version of Chicago called an echo. Trapped in a version of an afterlife, the denizens of the echo attack and absorb each other to keep the darkness at bay. Only Brody can’t let go of his past life or his love, Claire McCoy. Life and death blur, and a war rages in the afterlife.
Afterlife by Marcus Sakey is an ambitious novel that weaves an epic love story with crime drama and blends everything into an intense supernatural thriller. The concept is fascinating with the various levels of the echo, the war that ravages the afterlife, and the sinister forces lurking just beyond perception. There is an intricate level of world-building here that belies the action-blockbuster mask. In addition to the pulse-pounding action, heartwarming romance, and surprisingly deep philosophical quandaries, Afterlife deftly tackles issues like equality, morality, and ethics. This is a fun summer or airplane read that will stick with you long past the pretty surprising conclusion.
Thomas & Mercer
Finding Claire Fletcher
On the day that Detective Connor Parks has jeopardized his career for killing a man, he meets Claire Fletcher in a bar and spends one night with her, catching a glimpse of the girl she once was. Trouble is Claire Fletcher is no longer that girl. When she vanishes from his bed leaving an address, he tries to follow up for a chance to re-encounter this intriguing woman only to discover shocking news. The enigmatic Claire has been missing for years. As his work life disintegrates he sets out to solve the mystery of her disappearance. Claire becomes as ethereal to Parks as the ghost of whom she used to be is to Claire herself due to the man who has unmade her.
Returning to the living hell that is her new life, Claire is overcome with guilt for endangering the man who has woken a part of herself she had thought was long since dead. The question is how will she find the resolve to ensure no one else loses their life in her name?
From the opening first person narration of the mystery woman herself, or a version of her, the question hooks are planted that lead us into the story which is really four separate story lines cleverly shuffled. As each one ends on a crisis point or question we alternate to the next which deftly pulls us along as we search for the next big reveal. Major questions demand answers. Why isnt the most obvious and simple solution to Claires dilemma possible?
We follow Parks quest to find Claire from his third person narration as he weathers the situation with his career. Intermingled with all this we become a party to Claires current life as well as the history of her past which has led to now, when she still was wholly Claire Fletcher.
This gripping tale of psychological abuse is realistic and well-written. At times, I felt my breath become tight as I empathized with Claires ordeal, which is a testament to the books inherent craft. Clearly much research on trauma had been undertaken to underpin the heroines motivations. Dark it may be, but not gratuitous. Part way through however I became disappointed when Id thought Id figured out who Claires abuser was, but I had just been led into a skillful trap by this talented author who had sent me off down a blind alley, laying a trail of pseudo clues that had me fixing on how smart I was.
I finished the book and remained in the world Lisa Regan had created for a while. Its always a good sign when a story lingers. Its even better when you discover an author you enjoy and want to hear more from then find out there are several other works to encounter.
War and love, while opposites, are two things that can bring even the strongest to their knees. Roach introduces us first to Griffin Scoarse. Living in New York City that is a sad shell of what it had once been since the beginning of the war, Griffin robotically moves through his days at the weapons factory and his nights in a drug filled haze with reminders of his deceased mothers words haunting him with the dreams she had for him. A chance meeting with a mysterious girl named Becks on the way home from work one day, followed by losing his job, sends him into a downward spiral of drugs and despair. Not knowing which way is up or whether to bother, Becks proves to be the push he needs to get back out there and make a difference leading him to find a job in the barrack housing for soldiers fighting an endless and devastating war.
Next, we meet Alex Nessler who is so desperate to escape society she commits murder to go to prison with the hopes of hiding. When that does not pan out as the best escape she is given the opportunity to get out of prison by joining the military to fight for America. She chooses this option although it has limited training and an even slimmer chance of survival. During her stint in jail and then as she prepares to fight we learn that Alex is the one who got away for Griffin, and vice versa. Seemingly headed for a chance meeting at the barracks, the question is will Griffin and Alex be reunited and if they are will there be anywhere for them to escape the devastation of war to find their happy ending?
Roach tells the story of love and war through the eyes and lives of many characters throughout the book. From Griffin and Alex, Griffin and Becks, soldiers in Alexs team, love, war and desperation for survival is seen through each characters eyes and interactions. Author, Alisa Perederey, tells a haunting story of a world that is ravaged by war, leaving readers sifting through characters for the good left in humanity and what happens when the world really appears to be over. Vivid details and complex characters that you both root for and loathe keep you turning the page. Roach is a novel that will keep you hooked until the end wanting more, but not sure of what.
The Vermeer Conspiracy
Sabrina is a young Latina from Chicago who has beaten the odds at every turn to make a success of herself. Now shes at Yale on a scholarship and nearing graduation. Yale hasnt been a cakewalk either. Her freshman year she was raped by a professor, which she has kept secret from everyone, even her roommate, Danielle. The two couldnt have been more differentSabrina, dark, a little heavy, and an astronomy major who loves math, and Danielle, a willowy blonde majoring in art history with a special interest in Johannes Vermeer. Still, they become fast friends. But Danielles mentor, Prof. Verhaast, the foremost expert on Vermeer, was the very man who had raped Sabrina. When Danielle suddenly disappears, Sabrina keeps a few things of Danielles from police so she can solve the mystery herself. What she discovers is that Danielle has been trying to prove Vermeer was not the actual artist of his famous pieces. Its dangerous information. There have been other mysterious disappearances, all seemingly connected to Danielles Vermeer theory which, if proven, would be ruinous to Verhaast. But there is morea strange group that seems to have a hold over Verhaast and a convent with strange secrets. Can Sabrina really figure all of this out and perhaps even save Danielle?
Author Eytan Halaban has written a real thriller of a mystery with some wonderful art history thrown in to make a most interesting read. The writing is crisp and the pacing fast, characters are well-rounded and credible, the premise fascinating and completely believable, especially in the deft hands of Halaban. Its clear hes done good research, and yet he shows great imagination as well. The ending, however, is a bit weak and doesnt quite match the level of writing the rest of the book exhibits.
The Paris Protection
The Secret Service is in some ways like the NSA, CIA or some other government lesser known acronym group: just about everyone knows who they are, but they dont really know exactly how they operate or what they do. The Secret Services job is to protect the President of the United States 24/7, no matter what it takes. Their lives are always on the line for this one person. But what does this truly unique job entail?
The premise for The Paris Protection seems somewhat mundane and ordinary: a terrorist group has infiltrated the hotel where the United States President is staying and plans to assassinate her. They are fully confident in their success, while the Secret Service knows the job they have to do.
Abigail Clarke has done a lot of work – as a state prosecutor, US Senator, and governor of Virginia – and sacrificed much to become one of the most powerful and important people on the planet; many say THE most important. President Clarke does not take her job lightly and has very little free time. She is now in Paris for a summit meeting as she hopes to bring the prickly subject of organized crime to the international stage and address it as a terrorist attack. For now, the days work is done and she is at her hotel carrying out various conference calls with important people back on US soil and around the world.
Maximillian Wolff, who once served on the Israeli Security Protection team when Yitzak Rabin was assassinated, has suffered much during his life and holds the United States accountable for its world domination, and with a huge and highly trained team of mercenaries, his plan is to remove the head of power and bring the US to its knees. His right hand man, Kazim Aslan, has spent his time as an insurgent soldier in Iraq who has lost loved ones because of the United States policies and wants their assassination plan to be just as successful. Maximillian also has a hero: Hannibal Barca who once brought Rome to its knees.
The Paris Protection is three-hundred-and-fifty-odd pages that is anything but ordinary and mundane. Devore skillfully takes the reader step by step through the attack, giving POVs from both sides and plenty of detail of tactics, weaponry, and skill. It is a gripping thriller at its best. Here and there, he provides some back story to his characters–again on both sides–that help the reader understand what is fueling their desire and drive. Maximillian goes into numerous contemplations of how Hannibal handled certain situations to help them in their current one, which is juxtaposed with Secret Service Agents contemplating their skill and training and what past agents have done in similar situations.
It is the ideal blend of action and story with plenty of well-researched details that keep the reader glued to the page. The story passes throughout the hotel with some impressive battles, eventually leading down deep into the haunting Paris catacombs that serves as a terrifying arena for a chase scene. The Paris Protection is one of those books where you dont know who will make it out alive and how its really going to end; a perfect example of the thriller genre.
A Patchwork of Old Spies
A drug trade operation appears to go awry and two undercover agents, Gunther and Heidi, head to Chipley Island. Zach and Jodie Warren, two of the fourteen retired espionage experts who call the island their home, are not too thrilled that the agents have chosen their haven for protection. Yet they, along with the remaining retired spies, get involved to piece together the truth behind Operation Seagull. There are way too many unrelated clues and a slew of red herrings, however, which call for intense problem solvinga time for Jodie to resurrect the program from her old Patches mission. But trying to figure out “how a South American drug business, a Far Eastern gang, and…a Russian op named Polaris,” fit together, for example, is far more complicated and extremely riskier than the retirees thinkespecially when they’re invaded.
With a slew of published works under her belt, Gini Andings latest espionage novel takes readers into the strange and mysterious world of retired spiesat least the ones on Chipley Island. Once again featuring husband and wife agents, Zach and Jodie, as principal characters (from A Case for Old Spies), Anding includes a large, but intricately designed, cast of retired spies and other colorful protagonists and antagonists set within the confines of a tight community. Of particular interest is the way Anding punctuates each character (spy or otherwise) with his/her detailed credentials in bold lettering throughout her third-person narrative. That writing style not only helps readers wrap their heads around Anding’s hefty cast, but also identifies how each character is related to the other in some fashion.
As Anding continues to introduce each cast member, she slowly, but deftly, unfolds her storyline. Key to plot building, Anding creates the most interesting character conversations. Intertwined with geopolitics and its behind-the-scene connections with intelligent activity, dialogues are filled with a combination of reality, bumbling lame comments, and ad nauseam yet hilarious statementsall compactly laced within black comedy and action-packed who’s-done-it, game-of-Clue-like adventure. In addition, Anding also keeps her narrative flowing by including cliffhangers at the close of chapters and a whole stream of unexpected scene changes.
There is no doubt in this reviewer’s mind that A Patchwork of Old Spies is one read that is truly an unforgettable one of its kind.