book reviews

4 More NetGalley ARCs–3 Great, 1 Good

Here are three more great novels you won’t want to miss that I got from the wonderful NetGalley:

  1. Into the Fire— next in the Nowhere Man series and maybe the best
  2. The Deserter — a personal tragedy turns an amoral criminal against his own kind
  3. No Man’s Land — Hawk against saves lives with a wag of his tail and an unending passion to do his job
  4. Nathan’s Run–When you’re 12, accused of a murder you didn’t do, you might as well run
–received free 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

Into the Fire

by Gregg Hurwitz


In Hurwitz’s latest in the Nowhere Man series, Into the Fire (Macmillon 2020),  Max Merriweather engages Evan Smoak, aka the Nowhere Man, aka Orphan X, when Max’s cousin is brutally murdered after giving Max an envelope to turn over to the press should said cousin be killed. Max resolves to fulfill his promise but the reporter has also been murdered. He tries to figure out what to do next but has no idea where to even start.  To say he is desperate is like saying the Mona Lisa is a nice painting. So, he turns to a stranger recommended by another stranger he serendipitously met in a coffee shop.

When Evan Smoak gets Max’s call, he wants to complete one last case before retiring his Nowhere Man persona, the hat he wears to solve unsolvable problems for ordinary people. Unfortunately, every time Evan thinks he’s secured Max’s safety, another threat arises until the final one is far too personal for even the Nowhere Man.

If you like brilliant crime solvers that have no quit in them, if you like clever stories that make you think, if you like smart people not afraid to use their brains,  if you are a fan of Hurwitz’s Nowhere Man series, this is the novel for you.

The Deserter

by Nelson DeMille and Alex DeMille


Nelson DeMille’s latest novel and first in a new series (co-authored with his son), The Deserter (Simon and Schuster 2019), as we have come to expect from DeMille is a spine-tingling, fast-moving, complicated story of international intrigue. Chief Warrant Officer and Army CIS officer Scott Brodie and his partner Maggie Taylor are tasked with finding a Delta Force Officer, Kyle Mercer, who deserted his post in the Middle East for no known reason. When soldiers die searching for him, it changes his desertion from odd-but-probably-explainable to how-could-he-do-that. Despite the Army’s best efforts, Mercer disappears, finally showing up in an underage whorehouse in Venezuela two years later. Brodie and Taylor are sent to bring him back to America for trial.

Brodie is a wise-cracking smart-aleck while Taylor is a by-the-books investigator. Once they arrive in Venezuela, they go through innumerable problems, solved cleverly with lots of death-defying confrontations in what has become a lawless nation. Each step gets them closer to not only the deserter but unraveling the conundrum of why a patriotic kid from Iowa who achieved the highest level of trust the Army could offer–Special Forces–would dump it all to seemingly aid the enemy.

When I got this book I was worried. So often great authors like Nelson DeMille can’t deliver the same spectacular level of storytelling when working with another writer, even if it’s their son. I could give examples but I’ll keep them to myself. In this case, I needn’t have worried. The Deserter is true DeMille from its blistering pace to its nuanced understanding of the environment and its well-developed characters. I also worried whether I would like this character as much as I liked, say, John Corey. Again, I shouldn’t have. The author’s voice for Brodie is friendly with enough humor to soften serious issues while Taylor plays his foil expertly. Check these out:

“I have eyes in the back of my head.” “But your head is up your ass.”

Taylor asked, “Are you very cool in a dangerous situation, or do you just not understand what’s going on around you?”

“Mr. Brodie. Enjoying Caracas?” “Not even slightly.” “It grows on you.” “So does toe fungus.”

“The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.”

The only negative of this book is the endless hammering about the destruction wrought in Venezuela by their government and how heavily it weighs on its people. I appreciated the education the first time he built it into the story, didn’t mind it the fifth time, and wished I could hide from what is an impossible humanitarian nightmare by the fifteenth time. I started feeling guilty that I was reading fiction instead of doing something productive to help these well-meaning people.

Anyone else read this and feel that way?

No Man’s Land

by Sara Driscoll


In Sara Driscoll’s fourth book in her FBI K-9 series, No Man’s Land, Meg Jennings and her search and rescue dog Hawk, part of the FBI’s Human Scent Evidence Team, become involved in a particularly heinous murder case where elderly people as old as their ’80s are being left to die in abandoned urban locations, to live out their last moments alone and maybe in pain. Meg gets the case when Hawk finds the first body, entirely by chance, while he and Meg are on a non-work related exploration of a deteriorating urban building. In trying to track down the person’s identity, they find that there are others–many others–and come up with a way to find these kidnappings before they become deadly. Through it all, Hawk and Meg place themselves in constant danger as they tromp through crumbling buildings after a killer who would think nothing of murdering them to continue his vendetta.

This is a wonderful story about how working dogs save lives. To Meg, her dog Hawk is a respected partner, no less important than any human and often more so. If you liked Alex Kava’s working dog series (about Ryder Creed), you’ll love this book. If there was anything that bothered me about what should be the best book in the world (it’s about dogs after all), it was that Meg seemed a bit full of herself, as though she was the one who had to do everything and if it went wrong, it was on her. Everyone had to compliment her for her good work or her fragile ego would collapse. I don’t remember feeling this way about earlier books in the series so it could have been the mood I was in–which is why I didn’t deduct a star for it.

Nathan’s Run

by John Gilstrap


John Gilstrap’s Nathan’s Run (Pinnacle Books 2011) follows a twelve-year-old boy who ends up in juvie for a crime he didn’t commit. By a crazy fluke of luck (well, if killing a guard in self-defense is luck), he escapes. Now, all he can think to do is run from the police who think he’s a murderer and the system who put him in jail when he didn’t deserve it.

It starts when Nathan’s mother dies, and then his father, which puts him in the care of a violent, drunken, law-breaking Uncle who sees Nathan as nothing more than a meal ticket. Nathan has been raised to be honest, moral, and believe in the goodness of people, none of which helps him. Without the Mean Gene to protect himself against hardened teen criminals, he is beat up, abused, and targeted by everyone. When one of the guards decides to kill him, Nathan tries to defend himself and ends up killing the man. Now, the entire state sees him as a cop killer. Nathan doesn’t know what to do but knows he is never going back to the hellhole he escaped from, even if he must die. So he runs.

This was a riveting story from first page to the last. My only objection is the plethora of new characters, even toward the end of the book. This is more a preference of mine than a negative and you can see I didn’t deduct points. Just pointing it out.

Overall, this is highly recommended to anyone who loves to root for the underdog, see good fight evil, and get high out of a happy ending.

More dog stories

Storm Rising

Deck the Hounds

Hunting Hour

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 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 NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Against All Odds, Summer 2020. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning

43 thoughts on “4 More NetGalley ARCs–3 Great, 1 Good

    • These were all good. The Deserter–by the excellent Nelsen DeMille–might be my third most favorite, which is a surprise.


  1. Jacqui, all terrific and well-rounded reviews. I do not like books that start to preach a cause, as you say, a mention is okay but there are better forums for that than a fiction novel. As for introducing new characters towards the end of a book, this is a pet dislike of mine too … having said that you’ve totally sold me on Nathan’s Run and a book I’m noting down. Many thanks for sharing these and hope you’re having a great Sunday! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Friday 6th March 2020 – #Booktranslations Miriam Hurdle, #Poem Pamela Wight, #BookRecommendations Jacqui Murray | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

    • I really like the Nowhere Man series and this one is just as good as the rest. Great writing from Hurwitz. I don’t always like his books but this one stands out.

      Liked by 1 person

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