Citizen Kill

Citizen Kill

Citizen Kill by Stephen Clark (Thriller)

This government conspiracy thriller involves a discredited former CIA operative who is seeking to get back into the agency’s good graces. To do so, he must commit covert assassinations that go against his better judgment, killing American citizens who are suspected of, but not proven to be, radicalizing Muslims.

Equipped with an ice gun that shoots bullets of ice coated with a seafood toxin that stimulates a heart attack, Justin Raines begins killing Imams and others whose names are sent to him one by one by a CIA bigwig. Meanwhile, we also follow the newly inaugurated president of the United States, a reporter for a Washington newspaper, a young Muslim woman running a school for American Muslim children, various political figures, and some of Justin’s former CIA team members who form his current support system. While that may sound overwhelming, it’s not, with all but one of the narratives working well together to tell the story.

The one that did not work for me was the president, Savannah Reed. On Inauguration Day, during the parade, her 12-year-old son is killed when a bomb explodes along the route. Like any mother, she is devastated, but unlike a tough woman who has chosen to become the leader of the free world knowing the risks and responsibilities, she lasts one week in the White House and then transfers power to the Vice President and stays away for six months.

During that time, she befriends a young girl who lost her mother to the Inauguration Day bombing and is now in a wheelchair. When Savannah goes back to being president, she moves the child and her immigrant Bosnian father into the White House, along with Savannah’s own husband and teen-aged son. She helps the child with homework, takes her and her father along on political fundraisers across the country, and spends weekends with them dining in Washington restaurants. Then they and the first family all go to Camp David. Her husband is jealous, and then he’s not.

Unfortunately, all of this detail contributes nothing to the thriller’s plot. Instead, we watch a distracted, incompetent president live vicariously through a motherless child while everything around her goes down the drain. So much for being the first woman in the Oval Office.

If one can ignore that part, this is a book thriller aficionados will enjoy.  It has the requisite love story, some redemption, some justice meted out to the guilty, and some surprises. The story moves right along, the writing is fine, and it all wraps up at the end.

Grandma gives Citizen Kill three and a half stars. 3.5 stars

Bella Reads and Reviews received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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The Switch

The Switch

The Switch by Joseph Finder (Thriller)

This political thriller puts an everyday citizen in harm’s way after a simple mix-up at the airport. Michael Tanner mistakenly picks up the wrong laptop after going through airport security and finds himself in possession of a senator’s computer full of top-secret documents. Meanwhile, powerful Senator Susan Robbins’ right-hand-man, Will Abbott, is frantically seeking the lost laptop, knowing that his boss’s career — and his — will be destroyed if this egregious breach of security is discovered.

I found this to be a refreshingly different take on political intrigue. Tanner is not your usual highly trained special ops agent or guilt-ridden former cop seeking redemption through one last dangerous mission. He’s a regular guy whose life is suddenly at risk simply because he knows too much.

Abbott is an ambitious player behind the Congressional scene willing to take desperate measures to retrieve the laptop but he’s also an amateur at this sort of thing. The two become embroiled in a mess neither one can fully control. When a national security agency becomes involved, everyone’s future is at risk, and the price to be paid goes up.

This is not a predictable tale, and the fact that Tanner is just your average nice guy plunged into a life and death situation through no fault of his own makes this timely novel even more intriguing. Considering recent revelations about mishandling of sensitive information, the situation may not be all that far-fetched.

Grandma gives The Switch five stars.  5 stars

Bella Reads and Reviews Books received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This book will be released on June 13, 2017, and is available for pre-order.