Kirkus Reviews -
A kidnapping drops Elvis Cole and Joe Pike into the maelstrom of human smugglers. After L.A. college senior Krista Morales finds out the secret her boyfriend, USC dropout Jack Berman, has been hiding, she brings him out to the desert to reveal her own secret: the place where her mother Nita, who runs a highly successful business, was once brought into the country as an illegal alien. Unfortunately, the coyotes are still plying their customary trade at the very same spot, and Krista and Jack get swept up in a passing caravan. Convinced there's something strange about a ransom demand of a measly $500 delivered over the phone by her daughter in a heavy Mexican accent, Nita calls in Elvis Cole, the World's Greatest Detective. Working as usual with laconic Joe Pike, Cole soon ties the human-trafficking ring to the Double Dragon Korean gang and Syrian mastermind Ghazi al-Diri. But his attempt to infiltrate the ring as an unscrupulous capitalist who needs cheap labor backfires when he's recognized and seized himself. Now Pike must enlist his mercenary buddy Jon Stone to help rescue Krista, Jack, Cole and maybe even the two dozen illegals with whom they're being held in an undisclosed location. For some reason, the normally reliable Crais (The Sentry, 2011, etc.) doesn't trust his story, loaded with the promise of vigilante heroics and nonstop violence, to deliver the goods. So he jazzes it by pulverizing it into sections that leap back and forth in time and among different points of view (e.g., "ELVIS COLE: four days before he is taken"). The result is to loosen the logical links that connect one set piece to another and recast the whole story as if it were a string of trailers for a dozen hellacious summer movies.
Plucky bride-to-be makes an unexpected connection after she appropriates a stranger's cell phone. For Poppy Wyatt, losing her priceless antique engagement ring during a boozy pre-wedding brunch at a fancy hotel is bad enough without the added indignity of having her phone nicked by a drive-by bike mugger. All is not lost, though, as she discovers a perfectly good phone in the trash in the hotel lobby. Anxious to get the ring back without alarming her fiancé Magnus, she gives out the new number to the concierge and her friends. But the phone, it turns out, belonged to the short-lived assistant to Sam Roxton, an acerbic (but handsome) young executive in a powerful consulting firm. Given to one-word correspondence, with little patience for small talk and social niceties, Sam understandably wants the company property back. But Poppy has other ideas and talks him into letting her keep it for a few more days, offering to forward him all pertinent messages. In spite of Sam's reticence, the two strike up an oddly intimate text correspondence, with Poppy taking a way too personal interest in Sam's life--including his odd relationship with his seemingly crazy girlfriend, Willow. Sam, for his part, confronts Poppy over her fears that she is not good enough for Magnus' highly-educated family. Misunderstandings ensue, with Poppy's well-intentioned meddling causing multiple headaches. But when Sam gets embroiled in a corporate scandal, Poppy jumps in to help him in the only way she can. Meanwhile, a scheming wedding planner, and Poppy's conflicted feelings for Sam, threaten to derail the planned nuptials. Cheerfully contrived with a male love interest straight out of the Mr. Darcy playbook, Kinsella's (Twenties Girl, 2009, etc.) latest should be exactly what her fans are hankering for. And physical therapist Poppy is easily as charming and daffy as shopaholic Rebecca Bloomwood--minus the retail obsession. Screwball romance with a likable and vulnerable heroine.
Kirkus Reviews -
A smart and sophisticated novel about machines becoming conscious--or about humans becoming paranoid about whether machines can become conscious. Super-intelligent research physicist Dr. Alex Hoffmann lives with his artist wife Gabrielle in a mansion in Geneva, Switzerland. Formerly a scientist with the CERN project, Hoffmann has branched off into artificial intelligence, creating a machine called VIXAL-4, which helps the one percent become even richer by monitoring investments and making fast and nuanced predictions about market trends. Although the stock market in general languishes, VIXAL-4 clicks along at an 83 percent rate of return, so Hoffmann's business partner, Hugo Quarry, who's more adept with human interaction than the reclusive Hoffmann, lines up some billionaire angels for investment possibilities…and that's where things begin to go wrong. First, an intruder breaks into the Hoffmanns' house, breaching an impressive and expensive security system that had recently been installed. Then, at the opening reception for Gabrielle's first show, someone buys up every one of her works. Could it be the intruder? Is someone toying with Hoffmann, sending him a message that his life is not as secure as he thinks? Hoffmann tracks down and kills a man he believes is trying to kill him, and VIXAL-4 starts doing untoward things, making financial decisions that seem to be independent of any human control. When Hoffmann discovers a camera hidden in his smoke detector, he starts to suspect that Genoud, the man who had installed the security system, might be out to get him, so he takes off on the lam, becoming ever more irrational and out of control. Amid the welter of financial details, Harris creates a novel of tension and suspense by focusing more on the human than on the mechanistic.