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Covert Warriors by W. E. B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV
Kirkus Review -
At a Mexican roadblock, an American Embassy SUV is stopped and its occupants murdered except for Colonel Ferris, who is kidnapped. A drug cartel wants one of its own released from the Florence, Colo., supermax prison, and President Clennenden secretly wants to exchange the convict for Ferris. Meanwhile, Clennenden fears a coup by the vice president. Is this paranoia or genuine treason? POTUS misses no opportunity to earn the same contempt he lavishes on his subordinates, and he is accurately seen by some as a nut job. But just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you, so maybe there is something to his worries. The big issue, though, is whether it’s OK to trade a vicious murderer, who would surely kill again, for a hostage. It’s a good plot point, although the unrelenting nastiness of POTUS makes him look one-dimensional. And it’s irritating when half the characters are introduced by their height and weight, or when a character jokes, “If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you,” time and time again. Worse is the action-stopping background information provided every time a new character appears. Moreover, listing the precise model number of every weapon and aircraft feels unnecessary.
More explosions and tighter writing would have helped.
Star Wars: Darth Plagueis by James Luceno
In the film Star Wars® Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, the Emperor Palpatine tells disillusioned Jedi Anakin Skywalker the story of the legendary Sith Lord, Darth Plagueis, who sought to master the Force to control the power over life and death. In this tale of intrigue and ambition, treachery and passion, Luceno chronicles the rise and fall of this seminal Sith Lord. Within Plagueis's story, however, lies another tale—that of his apprentice, Darth Sidious, who will one day be known as the Emperor Palpatine. VERDICT A veteran author of many Star Wars® novels (Dark Lord; The Rise of Darth Vader; Labyrinth of Evil), Luceno draws on his storytelling skill and prodigious knowledge of the world created by filmmaker George Lucas to craft a complex tale of ambition and desire. With a varied cast of believable characters, this story should please the many fans of the series.
D. C. Dead by Stuart Woods
Publishers Weekly -
Bestseller Woods’s lackluster 22nd Stone Barrington novel (after 2011’s Son of Stone) takes the New York City lawyer and his NYPD sidekick, Lt. Dino Bacchetti, to Washington, D.C. There, the U.S. president asks Stone, a retired homicide detective, and Dino, to look into a year-old murder case close to home. The FBI concluded that Brixton Kendrick, the White House’s manager “in charge of the physical plant and office arrangements,” murdered his wife, the president’s social secretary, then hanged himself, but the president and the first lady, who’s also the intelligence director, have their doubts. “FBI agents are not awfully good at investigating homicides,” the first lady remarks. Stone’s romance with Holly Barker, “an assistant deputy director for the CIA,” provides some heat, while further murders raise the stakes. A redundant subplot involving a fugitive former CIA agent adds little to the main story line. A fast pace compensates only in part for superficial characters with a penchant for spewing one-liners.