Five best novels

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Ring of Fire by Brad Taylor, Dutton, US$27.00, Pp 448, January 2017, ISBN 978-1101984765

  Below the Belt  by Stuart Woods, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, US $28.00, Pp 336, January 2017, ISBN 978-0399573972

The Second Mrs. Hockaday: A Novel by Susan Rivers, Algonquin Books, US $, Pp , January 2017, ISBN 978-1616205812

My Not So Perfect Life: A Novel by Sophie Kinsella, The Dial Press, US $28.00, Pp 448, February 2017, ISBN 978-0812998269

Say Nothing by Brad Parks, Dutton, US $26.00, Pp 448, March 2017, ISBN 978-1101985595

A defense contractor had used a shell company to provide a bribe to a rich Saudi businessman to win a defense contract fifteen years ago. When the Panama Papers suddenly come in the open, the defense contractor panics and plans to prevent the exposure of his illegal act. He plans to prevent the next leak. As the data theft leaves the Task Force potentially vulnerable, the new president orders Pike Logan and Jennifer Cahill to interdict the next leak.  In his newest thriller, Ring of Fire, Brad Taylor shines light on and provides insight into the illicit deeds of offshore financing. The Saudi has been using the shell company to fund terrorists all over the place. In fact, he has a spectacular attack codenamed Ring of Fire, coinciding with the fifteenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Pike Logan and Jennifer Cahill unknowingly stumble upon Ring of Fire but they are unable to prevent it. It causes unimaginable destruction across the United States. Ring of Fire is only the beginning. Like his other books, Ring of Fire is inspired from the real world. This great thriller exposes Islamic terrorism more than most scholarly and academic books.

Taylor has served in the US Army Special Forces including eight years in 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, serving in Iraq, Afghanistan. He retired as a Special Forces lieutenant colonel and now lives in Charleston, South Carolina.

*****

Stone Barrington receives a call from an old friend who asks for a delicate favor. Stone has recently settled in his Santa Fe abode with a beautiful female companion. It appears the situation will escalate into an explosive quagmire. Stone is in hot water. Only someone like Stone can contain the damage. The gentleman at the center of these events is an impressive gentleman whose star is on the rise – and who would like to get Stone in his corner. He is charming and ambitious and has friends in high places; the kind of man who is a sure bet. Fortunes rise and fall in the fickle circles on the turn of a dime. It is Stone who holds the key to not only one man’s fate but also to the fate of the nation. Author of sixty novels, Woods is a formidable storyteller who knows the art of monopolizing your attention. You may find Below the Belt his best novel.

Stuart Woods is the author of more than sixty novels. Native of Georgia, he began his writing career in the advertising industry. Chiefs, his debut in 1981, won the Edgar Award. He is an avid sailor and pilot, Woods divides his time in Florida, Maine, and New Mexico.

 

*****

The Second Mrs. Hockaday is inspired by actual events of 1865 Civil War. Major Gryffth Hockaday and teenage Placidia fall in love and decide to get married out of wartime urgency before Gryffth Hockaday, a field officer in the 13th South Carolina regiment, leaves to perform his duties away in the front lines of the Civil War in Virginia. Back home Placidia has to cope with not only running a huge farm but also with the disintegration of the society. When Major Hockaday returns two years later, Placidia is accused of bearing a child and murdering him in his absence. The baby’s remains are exhumed but the young wife refuses to speak or name the father. She maintains her silence for the rest of her life. Rivers explores what true love is and how husband and wife can cope with the situation when they face long separation. This is not only the story of Placidia and many other Southern women who endured similar situation but also a large number of women who continue to suffer in war-torn regions. The Second Mrs. Hockaday is a compulsively readable debut novel about love by an accomplished playwright. Nobody else can write an unputdownable historical and mystery novel at the same time like Rivers.

*****

Katie Brenner thinks others, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe, are living the life she has always dreamed of living. She is smart and creative. Demeter lives with her family in a nice house in a posh neighborhood and can afford coolest clothes. Katie leads a dismal, struggling life and lives in a rented apartment with her oddball flat mates. In office, she struggles to escape the office politics. Her refuge is in instagram posts. That way she can make her dad proud. Just as she feels a new romance is on the horizon, Demeter fires Katie. She was shattered but remains positive. She decided to retreat to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London never seemed so far away – until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. As she learns about some secrets, a new relationship is developing. Katie questions her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life. This love story is full of drama. It critiques the false judgements we make in the social media-obsessed world. Sophie shows that real and imagined worlds are quite different. Sophie Kinsella is known for her dynamic, vivid, spirited characters. In My Not So Perfect Life, she is at her best with her characters.

Sophie Kinsella is a writer and former financial journalist. She is the number one bestselling author of Can You Keep a Secret?, The Undomestic Goddess, Remember Me?, Twenties Girl, I’ve Got Your Number and Wedding Night, the hugely popular Shopaholic novels and the Young Adult novel Finding Audrey. She has also authored several bestselling novels under the name of Madeleine Wickham.

*****

Federal judge Scot Sampson lives a life most of us can only dream of. He has it all: a prestigious job, a beautiful wife, adorable twins Sam and Emma. On an ordinary Wednesday afternoon, his life takes a nightmarish turn and the very foundations of his idyllic home are shaken. As he is getting ready to pick up his twins from school, he receives a text message from his wife Alison telling him she is going to pick the children from school instead. When she gets home, he realizes, she does not have the children. She doesn’t know where they are. Actually, she never sent the text. A phone call tells him their children had been kidnapped and he must do as he is told while presiding over an upcoming drug case as the kidnappers tell him if he wants the children back. The caller threatens him of dire consequences if he does not follow his instructions.  This is the most high-profile case of his career. This is just the beginning of a gut-churning ordeal of blackmail, deceit, and terror. This is also the beginning of their marriage falling apart. Suspicions and long-buried jealousies resurface as their marriage gets fractured. Scot and Alison will do everything to get their children back at all costs – to themselves or to each other. Say Nothing is a thriller which discusses some of the most important aspects of human relationships like how marital conflicts can turn into parental nightmares. As you read it, you may feel as if you are missing a heartbeat or two. This is one of the few best thrillers available this season.

Brad Parks is the only author to have won the Shamus, Nero and Lefty Awards, three of crime fiction’s most prestigious prizes. Say Nothing is his first standalone. Parks is a former reporter with The Washington Post and The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger. His next novel is about the child welfare system. It begins with a young mother coming home from work one day to find her baby has been taken by Social Services. Reviewed by TWBR team