Defending Jacob by William Landay
Publishers Weekly -
Andy Barber, a respected First Assistant DA who lives in Newton, Mass., with his gentle wife, Laurie, and their 14-year-old son, Jacob, must face the unthinkable in Dagger Award–winner Landay’s harrowing third suspense novel. When Ben Rifkin, Jacob’s classmate, is found stabbed to death in the woods, Internet accusations and incontrovertible evidence point to big, handsome Jacob. Andy’s prosecutorial gut insists a child molester is the real killer, but as Jacob’s trial proceeds and Andy’s marriage crumbles under the forced revelation of old secrets, horror builds on horror toward a breathtakingly brutal outcome. Landay (The Strangler), a former DA, mixes gritty court reporting with Andy’s painful confrontation with himself, forcing readers willy-nilly to realize the end is never the end when, as Landay claims, the line between truth and justice has become so indistinct as to appear imaginary. This searing narrative proves the ancient Greek tragedians were right: the worst punishment is not death but living with what you—knowingly or unknowingly—have done.
The Shadow Patrol (John Wells Series #6) by Alex Berenson
Kirkus Reviews -
Former CIA tough guy John Wells is back, and this time he's busting a heroin-smuggling ring operating out of an isolated Army base in Afghanistan. After a disastrous meeting with his estranged son, Wells accepts a freelance mission offered by his old agency boss Ellis Shafer. In the aftermath of a suicide bombing that killed the station chief and several of the best agents in the CIA's Kabul station, Wells is supposed to go to Afghanistan, see how things are going, then report back to CIA chief Vince Duto. More importantly, there have been reports that a mole in the Kabul station is working with a local Taliban leader, possibly to smuggle heroin. An analyst in the Kabul station thinks a group called the Thuwanis may be the source of the heroin, and that soldiers in the U.S. Army may be involved. Posing as a wealthy Saudi anxious to help fund jihad, Wells visits the Thuwani compound and uncovers some key information. But as he and Shafer unravel the threads of the conspiracy, they just can't seem to figure out a motive, which may have more to do with revenge than money. Fans of Berenson's previous Wells novels (The Faithful Spy, 2006, etc.) will find more to like here, including plenty of superbly paced action sequences, and the kind of background that suggests a better-than-average understanding of what soldiers on the ground actually see in Afghanistan. Skeptics will continue to roll their eyes at Wells' superhuman ability to, almost at the drop of a hat, pass for a national from whichever Middle Eastern country best suits his needs. There are also a few too-convenient plot twists, including a head-scratching scene wherein a conspirator in the smuggling ring is discovered thanks to the fact that he has "friended" a co-conspirator on Facebook. However, the prose is airtight, the pacing is excellent and the phenomenal action sequences more than make up for minor weaknesses in the plot. Berenson's highly enjoyable series continues with more of the rock-solid same.
The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice
Kirkus Reviews -
The "gift" of the title refers to a werewolf who acts more like Batman than like a bestial agent of disorder, for he goes about rescuing damsels (and guys) in distress and in the process killing the bad guys. Reuben Golding has everything going for him--good looks, a monied family, a girlfriend and a job as a reporter for the San Francisco Observer. He's sent to do a story on a mysterious house north of the city, and there he meets the equally mysterious Marchent Nideck, an elegant older woman who hopes to sell the house now that her great-uncle Felix Nideck has (after a 20-year disappearance) finally been declared officially dead. Touring the house with Marchent, Reuben becomes equally enamored with both architecture and hostess. Shortly after an eruption of spontaneous lovemaking, Marchent is attacked and killed, and Reuben, also attacked, finds himself badly injured. It seems Reuben's attackers were themselves set upon by a beast who bit Reuben and left him a "Chrism"--the power to transform to lupine status and concomitant power to sniff out evil (literally) and snuff out evil-doers. In the hour's interlude between lovemaking and attack, Marchent has conveniently contacted her lawyers and willed the Nideck estate to Reuben. The house is filled with Gothic bric-a-brac like old manuscripts and cuneiform tablets that suggest a connection to the supposedly (but not actually?) dead Felix. In his wolfish form Reuben falls in love with the recently widowed Laura, and, mystified by what's happening, he seeks the advice of his sage brother Jim, a Roman Catholic priest. One of the mysteries is that it doesn't take a full moon to effect Reuben's transformation.
Despite some of the creakiness of the machinery, Rice finds new permutations in an old tale.