Here are three more great genre fiction novels you won’t want to miss:
- Murder in Plane Sight — A woman Sierra Bauer holds complicit in the death of her brother ends up dead in a plane Sierra is working on
- Rogue — a killer for hire develops a conscience
- Out of the Dark — Orphan X has two important jobs; one from his past and one as Nowhere Man, all this while he’s falling in love.
by Julie Holmes
Julie Holmes debut novel, Murder in Plane Sight (Camel Pr 2019) is a high octane story of murder in the little-known world of airplane maintenance. Twenty-five-year-old Sierra Bauer is petite, beautiful, and highly respected at what is usually considered the male job of airplane repair and maintenance:
“Sierra, the only female A& P on Range Airline’s payroll, earned their respect by working her a** off in a male-dominated field.”
She’s happy working in a man’s world and cuts herself no slack for the work’s physical demands or technical requirements. She finds the challenge a good respite from a violent boyfriend now in jail, a brother killed just when he was trying to put his life back together, and her complete lack of people she can trust. Her predictable safe life becomes complicated when the dead body of a ‘rampie’ (a person who works ramps at an airport) she holds at least partially responsible for the death of her brother is found in a plane she is tasked with repairing. The mutual attraction between her and Quinn Moore, the detective from the MSP Airport Police Department assigned to the murder, is complicated when she becomes one of the top suspects, forcing her to explain not only why she wouldn’t have done it but decode the technical clues–only obvious to someone familiar with planes. As if this isn’t enough, Sierra’s ex-boyfriend has been released from prison with a chip on his shoulder and a burning need to get even with her for for what he considers her mistreatment of him.
This is an engaging romantic murder mystery that deftly blends a growing love interest into a tantalizing murder mystery. I’ve never been involved in the world of airplane maintenance and the author clearly knows what she’s talking about.
“I’d like to see her work on a Fokker prop. You need a six-foot torque wrench to tighten the nut on a Fokker”
The story is well-paced, the plot deftly developed, and the characters engaging. It’s hard to imagine this is Holmes first novel. I’m glad it’s a series because I’m looking for the next.
I read the first three of J.B. Turner’s John Reznick series and loved them (no reason I didn’t read the next two–I just got distracted; see my reviews here) so when Turner’s new series came out I was excited to try it. Rogue is the first in Turner’s American Ghost Thriller about a Nathan Stone who serves the American government as a black ops contract killer. Thanks to Stone’s storied background…
“…flashes of himself as a young man. The untrusting, uncertain eyes. Similar background. Dirt-poor. Brutalized by a sadistic father. Mentally scarred. Pent-up fury.”
“Nathan Stone has a very disturbed background. Which makes him ideal for our purposes. He is cold. Focused. Deadly. But also a brilliant critical thinker. You think you understand him. You think you know him. But no one does.”
…he is amoral with no compunctions about who he kills or why, as long as his government handler tells him to. He asks no questions and is never bothered afterwards by what he has done. His cover story is that he is a former soldier drifting through life without family, ties, or a permanent job. A serious injury in an assignment requires months (or years) of recovery which includes a new face, name, and complete separation from the only family he has ever had–a sister who killed the savage father who routinely beat both of them as children. Her actions cause her a mental break and she is in an institution with no real knowledge of what she did or the brother who holds onto her as his only connection to the past.
In this story, though he completes the murder he’s ordered to do, circumstances require that he now be killed to keep the job’s secret. Though his handlers know how skilled he is, they don’t really realize the extent of his abilities until he goes rogue.
“He was a tough, resilient warrior. A killer. An assassin. An American ghost. And a cold-blooded machine who had served his country and the intelligence agencies for well over a decade.”
I confess I didn’t like him at first or even throughout most of the book. But, as I got to know him, I realized that at his core remained a spark of humanity and though a remorseless killer, he had some lines he wouldn’t cross. As I read the book, I found I enjoyed the fast pace, the deep characterizations, the well-written plot, and the carefully-woven themes. Though I struggled to find people I liked in the story, it was a credit to Turner’s writing skill that I came out actually liking Stone, seeing a better future for him, and ready for his next adventure.
BTW, ‘ghost’ doesn’t refer to the supernatural. It refers to Stone’s ability to appear and disappear as though he were a ghost.
–ARC copy received from Goodreads in return for an honest review
by Greg Hurwitz
The defunct Orphan project developed super-killers for the USA, assassins who could kill anyone with a pen ten different ways, who were also clever enough to outthink, outplan, and outrun any adversary. In this, their top assassin was Evan Smoak also known as Orphan X:
“He sensed the men approach’s before he heard them. A vibration of the floor. A scent in the air. A pressure against his skin. He heard the melody of a slender rake tickling lock cylinders at the back door. Beneath the kitchen window, a boot tread compressed a dead leaf. In the living room, the pane issued a complaint as it pressed against the frame.”
His and his fellow Orphans’ purpose was to serve the government until that was deemed too dangerous for the men in power. Then, instead of decommissioning them to return to the normal lives of American citizens, the nation’s president decided they must be eliminated, every one of them. Many are killed before one of them–Orphan X, Evan Smoak–decides to put a stop to it by killing the President (well, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but for the purposes of this review, I’ve distilled the plot to a thimble). Opposing him is another Orphan, Orphan A, with all the same skills that Evan has but with also the power and brawn of the US Government to support his effort. Evan has retired, hiding from would-be government killers, and now calls himself the Nowhere Man, using his prodigious skills to help those with nowhere else to go for aid. He does it for free with their promise that they will send others in need to him. It’s his way of atoning for what he now considers past sins. As he arranges for the President’s murder, he gets a call from a high-functioning special man whose family–about a dozen of them–were mass-murdered by drug dealers. To Evan, as important as it is to rid the nation of a leader who is irretrievably corrupt, it is equally important to help this man who has done nothing to deserve what has happened.
Throughout the story, we get glimpses into Orphan X’s past. Where we would be tempted to drop him into a box labeled “hopeless murderer”, we find that can’t be done. We even end up empathizing with his passion and goals. As a result, he becomes not a nasty bad guy, not a lovely good guy, but a mashup in between. Proof that I was siding with him was later in the novel when he ended up in a life-and-death footrace with Feds and I found myself rooting for him.
In this book, Greg Hurwitz has an enviable way of phrasing thoughts and ideas into amazing paragraphs. Some of his books, this hasn’t worked as well but in Out of the Dark, with Evan Smoak, Hurwitz has found a character that is exactly right for him and his prodigious writing talent. This is an excellent read, a page-turning thriller like I haven’t enjoyed in a while. I can’t wait to read more of this character.
–I received an ARC copy from NetGalley in return for an honest review
–a note about my reviews: I only review books I enjoyed. I need to be inspired to write. That’s why so many of my reviews are 4/5 or 5/5
More thriller reviews
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and Born in a Treacherous Time, first in the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for TeachHUB and NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Survival of the Fittest, March 2019, first in the Crossroads Trilogy. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning