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Takedown by Brad Thor

Publisher:  Atria Books  ISBN:  0-7432-7118-1

Reviewed by Susan Illis, New Mystery Reader

Scot Harvath, a member of the special international branch of Homeland Security, has just captured a would-be terrorist and is looking forward to a weekend of relaxation in New York City over July 4th.  But while waiting to meet his friend Bob Herrington in a Manhattan bar, Scot learns that bridges and tunnels leading into Manhattan are under attack, signaling the beginning of the worst terrorist attack yet.

Scot and Bob put together a team of operatives drawn from different military branches, armed to the teeth.  Communicating with an assortment of Washington public servants, Scot begins to suspect that the assault on the transportation infrastructure was primarily a diversionary tactic.  The real goal?  To rescue the evil Mohammed bin Mohammed, currently in U. S. custody in New York.

Scot eventually gets his quarry, but leaves an unconscionably high number of dead bodies in his wake, with the promise of still more.  The characters in this espionage thriller have an unfortunate tendency to value human life based on military and political connections.  The terrorist attack Brad Thor creates is too chillingly realistic to be entertaining.  I expected to find some cold comfort from escaping into a fictional world where we had a different president, but Thor's President Jack Rutledge proved not to be much of an improvement over what we have.



Cold Kill by David Lawrence

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 0312347413

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

It's nearing the holidays in a bitterly cold winter in London when police begin to see a pattern in several brutal murders of young women.  Heading the case is Detective Stella Mooney, a woman with her own issues to battle, issues that she must temporarily put aside in order to stop the bloody rampage that her city faces.  But even though these cases seem connected, the manner of murder identical, forensics has a different story to tell.  And when a young man comes into the station confessing all, seeming to know some detail not yet released, he sets in motion an even more brutal onslaught of death and destruction, one that is not what it seems on some levels, while on others embraces the very evil he claims belongs to him. 

This dark and gritty London is not the one you'll find in travel brochures; Lawrence has detailed a city that seems continuously on the brink of lawlessness and evil, filled with such harsh edges and brutality that in itself is more than enough to make this novel disturbingly chilling.  But he doesn't stop there, he next throws in the characters that bring it even more readily to life, characters who even when playing on the right side of good and evil must continue to battle their own insidious demons, making for a more than realistic portrayal of lives on the edge.   

But it's really Stella herself who makes this series one of the most compelling ones out there, a woman always on the brink of implosion, her inner turmoil ensuring a constant uphill battle against the darkness that seems just waiting to claim her, yet who still somehow manages to maintain her courage and commitment in fighting the good fight.   

Filled with guts, glory, and an amazing amount of suspense and thrills, this is one read you won't want to miss.