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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


The Kill Clause: A Novel by Gregg Hurwitz (William Morrow) Gregg Hurwitz has 3 thrillers under his belt. Now this 29 year-old Californian with a BA from Harvard and a master’s degree from Oxford brings us the first novel in a new series, The Kill Clause.
Deputy U.S. Marshal Tim Rackley is forced to explore his own deadly options when his daughter is brutally murdered and her killer freed on a legal technicality. His search leads him to “The Commission,” a vigilante group of six men and one woman who are, like him, streetwise operators who have lost a loved one to violent crime and seen the killers set free. Now they are intent on righting the justice system. Rackley joins them, leaving his job as a county sheriff and his wife to disappear into the murk of L.A. and  begin a series of high-tech hits on high-profile criminals who have slipped through the system's cracks – including the man who, Rackley believes, killed his daughter. But it’s only a matter of time before Tim’s secret life comes unwound and he finds himself in a battle for his marriage, his ethics, and his own life.  

Of his book, Hurwitz says: “In The Kill Clause, I was very interested in exploring the nuances and weaknesses of the law. The ways in which our courts necessarily function do not address justice—only the law. I wrote about an upstanding deputy US marshal, Tim Rackley, whose daughter is murdered and her killer set free due to a procedural loophole. An option outside the law is presented to him—not your basic Charles Bronson street justice plan, but an actual, viable, intelligent option that addresses the law and the role of violence in society—and he takes it.”
Hurwitz continues, “As a thriller novelist, I’ve had the pleasure to interact with a wide range of consultants, from police officers, to Army Rangers, to FBI agents, and I’m proud to count many of them now among my friends. They have none of the ivory tower insecurities about expressing admiration and affection for enduring values and their moral compass is unwavering. The Kill Clause addresses some of these ideas: how long will we permit procedural irregularities—expired warrants, Miranda violations, and tainted chain of custody to override the merits? If we know someone is guilty and they are turned free due to a botched knock-and-notice, at what cost do we countenance that? If they kill again? If they kill your daughter? My protagonist seeks to answer some of these questions on his own, outside the “system.” And while he certainly doesn’t like what he finds, at least he has the courage to go looking.”

In the end, Tim risks one more vigilante act to put justice back in the hands of the courts. Hurwitz's descriptions of Tim's methods of disappearing, breaking-and-entering, and stealing identities are convincing, and his fast-paced plotting keep readers riveted. Our U.S. Marshal Rackley, sympathetic, morally conflicted, is a promising new series hero; in The Kill Clause Hurwitz is off to a good start with the first installment.

Executive Power by Vince Flynn (Atria Books) CIA superagent Mitch Rapp battles global terrorism in a high-octane follow-up to The New York Times bestselling Separation of Power – another chillingly authentic adventure from the master of the political thriller, Vince Flynn. 
Rapp's cover has been blown. After leading a team of commandos deep into
Iraq to prevent Saddam Hussein from joining the nuclear arms race, he was publicly hailed by the president as “the single most important person in the fight against terrorism.” But after years of working covertly behind the scenes, Rapp now lives in the glare of the public spotlight, lauded by the nation and an easy target for virtually every terrorist from Jakarta to London .

As special advisor on counterterrorism to CIA director Dr. Irene Kennedy, Rapp is ready to fight the war on terrorism from CIA headquarters rather than the front line. At least that’s what he has promised his wife. But in spite of his promise that he'll take a desk job now that his anonymity has been compromised, Mitch doesn't hesitate to tackle another covert mission involving the rescue of a family being held hostage in the Middle East .

When a platoon of Navy SEALs, sent to the Philippines to save an American family, is kidnapped by radical Islamic terrorists and caught in a deadly ambush, off he goes. The mission had been top secret – so who told the enemy? All evidence points to the State Department and the Philippine embassy. But a greater threat still lurks. An unknown assassin working closely with the highest powers in the Middle East is bent on igniting war. Now, with the world watching his every move, will Rapp be able to overcome this anonymous foe and once again keep the flames of war from raging?

Flynn transports us into an intriguing geopolitical puzzle full of deadly motives, covert operatives, and all the true-to-life insider detail we've come to expect, including the requisite cadre of international agents, pedantic bureaucrats, spoiled sheikhs, and a U.S. president and military unfailingly portrayed as noble.

Executive Power is a high-flying story that delivers shattering suspense at high velocity. This post-September 11 espionage novel rivets us with never-let-up action while questioning the politics of vengeance, and it’s sure to appeal to Americans' burgeoning awareness of – and interest in – the complex affairs of the Middle East .

Ice Hunt by James Rollins (Morrow) James Rollins, author of numerous best-selling adventure novels, delivers sympathetic characters, maniacal villains, gaps, chuckles and climactic chase scenes once again in Ice Hunt, another escapist’s delight.

Buried deep in the earth's polar ice cap – carved into a moving island of ice twice the size of the United States – is a secret place, the site of a remarkable abandoned experiment that could have frightening ramifications for the planet. The brain trust of the former Soviet Union who created the seventy-year-old Ice Station Grendel would like it simply to melt from human memory. But that becomes impossible when an American undersea research vessel, the Polar Sentinel, inadvertently pulls too close to the hollowed-out iceberg ... and one of the crew sees something alive inside. Something that never should have survived.

It is a discovery that sends shock waves through the intelligence communities of two powerful nations, as American and Russian scientists, soldiers, and unsuspecting civilians are pulled into Grendel's lethal vortex of secrets, violence, and betrayal. To preserve the silence – to prevent others from uncovering the terrible mysteries locked behind submerged walls of ice and steel – no measures will be too extreme. For within the station, experiments have blurred the line between life and death

One man already knows too much: Matthew Pike, a former American Special Forces operative, living in seclusion in Alaska on the edge of the Arctic Circle . On the run after rescuing the survivor of a plane crash no one was meant to observe, Pike is relentlessly drawn into the eye of the gathering storm – even as a Russian nuclear attack submarine draws silently nearer to the men and women on the Polar Sentinel. The covert battle over Grendel is spinning out of control, and the future of all human life on Earth will be altered – or destroyed – once its nightmarish truths are revealed.

A masterful blending of science and adventure, suspense and explosive page-turning excitement, James Rollins's Ice Hunt is a novel that will chill readers to the bone, holding them in its icy grip from the first sentence to its final startling twist.

White Death: A Novel from the Numa Files by Clive Cussler, Paul Kemprecos (Putnam Publishing Group) (UNABRIDGED AUDIO CASSETTE) (ABRIDGED AUDIO CASSETTE) (ABRIDGED AUDIO CD) Critics and fans everywhere have welcomed the enormously entertaining new series from Clive Cussler: the adventures of Kurt Austin, taken from the NUMA Files.
Hailed as a hero for the new millennium, Austin is the leader of NUMA's Special Assignments Team-and the threat before him now is definitely special. A confrontation between a radical environmentalist group and a Danish cruiser has forced Austin and colleague Joe Zavala to come to the rescue of a shipful of trapped men; but when the two of them investigate further, they discover that something far more sinister is at work. A shadowy multinational corporation is attempting to wrest control of the very seas themselves-no matter what havoc results-and is killing anyone who attempts to stop them. When Austin 's boat blows up and he just barely survives, it seems certain he is the next in line to die-but he cannot stop now. For the environmental disaster has already begun, and only he and NUMA stand in the way. . . .
Rich with all the hair-raising adventure and endless imagination unique to Cussler,
White Death:is an exceptional thriller from the grand master of adventure fiction.

No Second Chance by Harlan Coben (E P Dutton) (Audio CD [abridged], Audio Cassette [abridged], Audio Cassette [unabridged] Penguin Audiobooks)  Bestselling author Harlan Coben returns with an explosive novel about the love of a father, in a story where nothing is what it seems-and where hope and fear collide in the most surprising ways.
When the first bullet hit my chest, I thought of my daughter...
Marc Seidman awakens to find himself in an ICU, hooked up to an IV, his head swathed in bandages. Twelve days earlier, he had an enviable life as a successful surgeon, living in a peaceful suburban neighborhood with his beautiful wife and a baby he adored. Now he lies in a hospital bed, shot by an unseen assailant. His wife has been killed, and his six-month-old daughter, Tara, has vanished. But just when his world seems forever shattered, something arrives to give Marc new hope: a ransom note.
We are watching. If you contact the authorities, you will never see your daughter again. There will be no second chance.
The note is chilling, but Marc sees only one thing-he has the chance to save his daughter. He can't talk to the police or the FBI. He doesn't know whom he can trust. And now the authorities are closing in on a new suspect: Marc himself. Mired in a deepening quicksand of deception and deadly secrets-about his wife, about an old love he's never forgotten, and about his own past-he clings to one, unwavering vow: to bring home Tara, at any cost.
Both a white-knuckle thriller and an emotionally powerful tale about the loyalty of old friends and the bond between parent and child, No Second Chance is another masterpiece.

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