Quick Review: INSIDE THREAT by Matthew Quirk (William Morrow)

QuirkM-InsideThreatUSHCDefending the president from threats internal and external…

Assume the worst. Code Black.

The day that every secret service agent trains for has arrived. The White House has been breached; the President forced to flee to a massive doomsday bunker outside DC to defend against whatever comes next. Only the most trusted agents and officials are allowed in with him — those dedicated to keeping the government intact at all costs.

Among these is Erik Hill, who has given his life to the Secret Service. They are his purpose and his family, and his impressive record has made him a hero among them. Despite his growing disillusionment from seeing Washington corruption up close, Erik can’t ignore years of instincts honed on the job. The government is under attack, and no one is better equipped to face down the threat than he is.

The evidence leads him to a conspiracy at the highest levels of power, with the attack orchestrated by some of the very individuals now locked in with him. As the killers strike inside the bunker, it will take everything Erik Hill has to save his people, himself, and his country.

I’ve been a fan of Matthew Quirk’s novels ever since I read an ARC of his debut, The 500, in a single sitting. Each of his novels has been a fast-paced, engaging thriller — and Inside Threat is no different. I enjoyed this.

Continue reading

Very Quick Review: CITY OF DREAMS by Don Winslow (William Morrow)

WinslowD-C2-CityOfDreamsUSHCDanny Ryan et al dodge the law, the mafia, and their own demons; and take a quick turn through Hollywood…

Hollywood.

The city where dreams are made. 

On the losing side of a bloody East Coast crime war, Danny Ryan is now on the run. The Mafia, the cops, the FBI all want him dead or in prison. With his little boy, his elderly father and the tattered remnants of his loyal crew of soldiers, he makes the classic American migration to California to start a new life.

A quiet, peaceful existence.

But the Feds track him down and want Danny to do them a favor that could make him a fortune or kill him. 

And when Hollywood starts shooting a film based on his former life, Danny demands a piece of the action and begins to rebuild his criminal empire.

Then he falls in love.

With a beautiful movie star who has a dark past of her own.

As their worlds collide in an explosion that could destroy them both, Danny Ryan has to fight for his life in a city where dreams are born.

Or where they go to die.

From the shores of Rhode Island to the deserts of California where bodies disappear, from the power corridors of Washington where the real criminals operate to the fabled movie studios of Hollywood where the real money is made, City of Dreams is a sweeping saga of family, love, revenge, survival and the fierce reality behind the dream.

Danny Ryan and crew return in the sequel to City on Fire, dodging the attentions of the feds, other organized crime families, and their own demons. An engaging continuation of the series. Continue reading

Books on Film: THE NIGHT AGENT by Matthew Quirk

I’ve been a fan of Matthew Quirk‘s thrillers ever since I blitzed through an ARC of his debut, The 500. I read it in a single sitting, staying up well into the wee hours of the morning — at the time, we were living in a bedsit, so I read it all sitting on the floor in our bathroom, so my partner could sleep undisturbed. Anyway, on March 23rd, Netflix are due to release the ten-episode television adaptation of The Night Agent! Somehow, I managed to either miss or forget that it was being adapted, but I am very much looking forward to seeing what they’ve come up with.

Originally published in 2019, here’s the synopsis:

To save America from a catastrophic betrayal, an FBI agent must stop a Russian mole in the White House…

No one is more surprised than FBI Agent Peter Sutherland when he’s tapped to work in the White House Situation Room. When Peter was a boy, his father was suspected of selling secrets to the Russians — a breach that cost him his career, his reputation, and eventually his life. Now Peter’s job is monitoring an emergency line for a call that has not — and might never — come.

Until tonight.

At 1:05 a.m. the phone rings. A terrified young woman named Rose tells Peter that two people have just been murdered and that the killer might still be in the house with her. One of the victims gave her this phone number with urgent instructions: “Tell them OSPREY was right. It’s happening…” The call thrusts Peter into the heart of a conspiracy years in the making, involving a Russian mole at the highest levels of the U.S. government. Anyone in the White House could be the traitor. Anyone could be corrupted. To save the nation, Peter must take the rules into his own hands, question everything, and trust no one.

The Night Agent is published in North America by William Morrow, and in the UK by Aries/Head of Zeus. Continue reading

Quick Review: RED WARNING by Matthew Quirk (William Morrow)

QuirkM-RedWarningA long-dormant Cold War plan threats to devastate all of Washington, D.C.

CIA officer Sam Hudson races to find a deep cover operative loose in the U.S. and a mole in the Agency before they can launch a devastating attack on Washington, D.C. …

For years CIA officer Sam Hudson has been hunting Konstantin, a Russian deep cover operative responsible for a string of assassinations in the West—and he believes a well-placed source in Geneva can finally get him close to the killer. But when their meeting is ambushed, Sam’s partner is murdered and he barely makes it out alive himself.

Back in the States, the bosses put him on leave and want him to drop his obsession with Konstantin, but Sam can’t let a man who’s taken so many lives slip away again. When he gets a mysterious call at the Lincoln Memorial just before a bomb goes off, he realizes Konstantin has followed him to the U.S. — and is targeting him and everyone close to him. Teaming up with fellow CIA officer Emily Pierce, he sets out to redeem himself and uncover a plot that has been lying in wait since the end of the Cold War, its elements hidden among the most iconic buildings in the capital.

With enemies lurking both inside and outside the Agency and the Russian threat looming ever larger, Sam must use all his training and nerve to stop Konstantin before he can trigger the plot to devastate Washington and bring the U.S. to its knees.

I’ve been a fan of Matthew Quirk’s fast-paced thrillers ever since his debut, The 500 — which I read in one sitting, deep into the night. Each of his novels since has been equally gripping and action-packed. In Red Warning, he offers another action-packed thriller, but one that dials back the pacing just a little bit — which makes for a more substantial read. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: CITY ON FIRE by Don Winslow (William Morrow)

WinslowD-1-CityOnFireUSHCAn excellent start to a new, final trilogy

Two criminal empires together control all of New England.

Until a beautiful woman comes between the Irish and the Italians, launching a war that will see them kill each other, destroy an alliance, and set a city on fire.

Danny Ryan yearns for a more “legit” life and a place in the sun. But as the bloody conflict stacks body on body and brother turns against brother, Danny has to rise above himself. To save the friends he loves like family and the family he has sworn to protect, he becomes a leader, a ruthless strategist, and a master of a treacherous game in which the winners live and the losers die.

From the gritty streets of Providence to the glittering screens of Hollywood to the golden casinos of Las Vegas, two rival crime families ignite a war that will leave only one standing. The winner will forge a dynasty.

I’m a relative newcomer to Don Winslow’s novels, having started with The Force (2017). Since then, I’ve eagerly anticipated each new book, as well as gone back and read some of his older novels. He recently announced that the trilogy that City on Fire starts will be his last — he is retiring from writing to focus on political activism. Based on this novel, it looks like he’s going to be going out on quite a high — City on Fire is an excellent start to a series, and one that hooked me pretty much from the get-go. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE MURDER RULE by Dervla McTiernan (William Morrow)

McTiernanD-MurderRuleUSHCA young law student tries to derail a murder trial

First Rule: Make them like you.

Second Rule: Make them need you.

Third Rule: Make them pay.

They think I’m a young, idealistic law student, that I’m passionate about reforming a corrupt and brutal system.

They think I’m working hard to impress them.

They think I’m here to save an innocent man on death row.

 They’re wrong. I’m going to bury him.

Dervla McTiernan’s latest novel has been getting quite a bit of good buzz in the lead up to publication. The synopsis was intriguing, and I’m always on the look-out for new authors to follow. (Because, you know, I never have enough to read.) After receiving a review copy, I dove right in, and blitzed through it in just a few sittings. This is a well-paced, well-written, and gripping thriller. Continue reading

Upcoming: GROUPIES by Sarah Priscus (William Morrow)

PriscusS-GroupiesUSHCThere has been a string of novels over the past few years that take place in and adjacent to the 1970s music scene — most notably, Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Daisy Jones & the Six, Emma Brodie’s Songs in Ursa Major, Jessica Anya Blau’s Mary Jane, and Glenn Dixon’s Bootleg Stardust, to name but four. As it happens, I’m a big fan of this (sub-)genre, so I’m very much looking forward to Sarah Priscus‘s debut novel, Groupies, which “shines a bright light on the grungy yet glittery world of 1970s rock ‘n’ roll and the women – the groupies – who unapologetically love too much in a world that doesn’t love them back.” Here’s the synopsis:

It’s 1977, and Faun Novak is in love with rock ‘n’ roll.

After her mother’s death, Faun, a naïve college dropout, grabs her Polaroid and hops a Greyhound to Los Angeles. In the City of Angels, she reconnects with her charismatic childhood friend Josie, now an up-and-coming model and muse. To make their reunion even sweeter, Josie is now dating Cal Holiday, the frontman of the superstar rock band Holiday Sun, and Faun is positively mesmerized.

Except it’s not just the band she can’t get enough of. It’s also the proud groupies who support them in myriad ways. Among the groupies are: a doting high school girl at war with her mother; a drug-dealing wife and new mom who longs to be a star herself; and a cynical mover-and-shaker with a soft spot for Holiday Sun’s bassist.

Faun obsessively photographs every aspect of this dazzling new world, struggling to balance her artistic ambitions with the band’s expectations. As her confidence grows for the first time in her life, her priorities shift. She becomes reckless with friendship, romance, her ethics, and her bank account.

But just as everything is going great and her boring, old life is falling away, Faun realizes just how blind she has been to the darkest corners of this glamorous musical dreamland as the summer heats up and everything spirals out of control…

Equal parts an evocative coming-of-age and a cutting look at fame, desire, and the media, Groupies is a novel that will have you turning the pages until the music- and drug-fueled end.

Sarah Priscus’s Groupies is due to be published in North America by William Morrow, on July 12th.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: BLOOD, SWEAT & CHROME by (William Morrow)

BuchananK-BloodSweath&ChromeUSHCIs it just me, or are we living in a bit of a golden age for movie and TV oral histories? It’s still not a massive sub-field in publishing, true, but I’ve seen quite a few upcoming books announced, and have also read quite a few over the past couple of years. As someone who very much enjoys behind-the-scenes content, I fully support this. To that end, let me draw your attention to Blood, Sweat & Chrome by Kyle BuchananNew York Times pop culture reporter and “The Projectionist” (awards season columnist). It is the “wild and true” oral history of Mad Max: Fury Road!

A full-speed-ahead oral history of the nearly two-decade making of the cultural phenomenon Mad Max: Fury Road — with more than 130 new interviews with key members of the cast and crew, including Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, and director George Miller, from the pop culture reporter for The New York Times, Kyle Buchanan.

It won six Oscars and has been hailed as the greatest action film ever, but it is a miracle Mad Max: Fury Road ever made it to the screen… or that anybody survived the production. The story of this modern classic spanned nearly two decades of wild obstacles as visionary director George Miller tried to mount one of the most difficult shoots in Hollywood history.

Production stalled several times, stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron clashed repeatedly in the brutal Namib Desert, and Miller’s crew engineered death-defying action scenes that were among the most dangerous ever committed to film. Even accomplished Hollywood figures are flummoxed by the accomplishment: As the director Steven Soderbergh has said, “I don’t understand how they’re not still shooting that film, and I don’t understand how hundreds of people aren’t dead.”

Kyle Buchanan takes readers through every step of that moviemaking experience in vivid detail, from Fury Road’s unexpected origins through its outlandish casting process to the big-studio battles that nearly mutilated a masterpiece. But he takes the deepest dive in reporting the astonishing facts behind a shoot so unconventional that the film’s fantasy world began to bleed into the real lives of its cast and crew. As they fought and endured in a wasteland of their own, the only way forward was to have faith in their director’s mad vision. But how could Miller persevere when almost everything seemed to be stacked against him?

With hundreds of exclusive interviews and details about the making of Fury Road, readers will be left with one undeniable conclusion: There has never been a movie so drenched in sweat, so forged by fire, and so epic in scope.

Really looking forward to reading this. Blood, Sweat & Chrome is due to be published by William Morrow in North America and in the UK, on February 22nd, 2022.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Very Quick Review: THE 6TH EXTINCTION by James Rollins (William Morrow)

RollinsJ-SF10-6thExtinctionUSPBThe tenth Sigma Force novel

A remote military research station broadcasts a frantic distress call that ends with a chilling message: Kill us all. When soldiers arrive to investigate, they discover everyone in the lab is dead — not just the scientists, but every living thing for fifty square miles is annihilated: every animal, plant, and insect, even bacteria. The land is completely sterile — and the blight is spreading.

To prevent the inevitable, Commander Gray Pierce and Sigma must decipher a threat that rises out of the distant past, a time when Antarctica was green and Earth’s life balanced on a knife edge. Following clues from an ancient map rescued from the lost Library of Alexandria, Sigma will make a shocking discovery involving a prehistoric continent, and a new form of death buried under miles of ice.

From millennia-old secrets out of the frozen past to mysteries buried deep in the darkest jungles of today, Sigma will face its greatest challenge yet: stopping the coming extinction of mankind.

But is it already too late?

I’ve been a long-time fan of James Rollins’s Sigma Force novels. I fell behind for a bit, though, and recently decided that it was time for me to get caught up. And so, I eagerly dove in to The 6th Extinction, hoping for some action-packed mystery and globe-trotting adventure. I was not at all disappointed. Continue reading

Quick Review: STEVE KERR by Scott Howard-Cooper (William Morrow)

HowardCooperS-SteveKerrUSHCThe definitive biography of Steve Kerr, the championship-winning basketball player and head coach of the record-breaking Golden State Warriors

Few individuals have had a career as storied, and improbable, as Steve Kerr. He has won eight NBA titles — five as a player and three as a coach — for three different franchises. He played alongside the best players of a generation, from Michael Jordan to Shaquille O’Neal to Tim Duncan, and learned the craft of basketball under four legendary coaches. He was an integral part of two famed NBA dynasties. Perhaps no other figure in basketball history has had a hand in such greatness.

In Steve Kerr, award-winning sports journalist Scott Howard-Cooper uncovers the fascinating life story of a basketball legend. Kerr did not follow a traditional path to the NBA. He was born in Beirut to two academics and split his childhood between California and the Middle East. Though he was an impressive shooter, the undersized Kerr garnered almost no attention from major college programs, managing only at the last moment to snag the final scholarship at the University of Arizona. Then, during his freshman season at Arizona, tragedy struck. His father, Malcolm, then the president of the American University of Beirut, was assassinated in Lebanon by terrorists. Forged by the crucible of this family saga, Steve went on to chart an unparalleled life in basketball, on the court and on the sidelines.

The only coach other than Red Auerbach to lead a team to the Finals five consecutive seasons, Kerr seems destined for the Basketball Hall of Fame. Steve Kerr is his incredible story, offering insights into the man and what it takes to be — and make — a champion. Drawing upon Scott Howard-Cooper’s years covering the Warriors, deep archival research, and original interviews with more than one hundred of the central characters in Kerr’s life, this is basketball biography at its finest.

I first learned who Steve Kerr was during the Golden State Warriors’ championship runs from 2014-19 (a run the Raptors ended). Over those years, I picked up bits and pieces of information about his playing career — specifically, that he was on the Chicago Bulls during Michael Jordan’s post-baseball years back on the team. It wasn’t until The Last Dance docu-series that I learned a bit more about his pre-Warriors life. With Scott Howard-Cooper’s Steve Kerr: A Life, I’ve been able to fill in the gaps. This is a very good picture of Kerr’s fascinating life, on and off the court. Continue reading