Monday, February 6, 2023

Books: New Novels From Deborah Crombie, Brad Taylor, & Gabriella Saab


The Morgan Library. Photo by Jason Schott.

There are three fascinating new novels out that you are sure to enjoy while curling up on cold nights: A Killing of Innocents, by Deborah Crombie; The Devil's Ransom: A Pike Logan Novel, by Brad Taylor; and Daughters of Victory, by Gabriella Saab.

A Killing of Innocents

By Deborah Crombie

William Morrow; hardcover, 384 pages; $28.99; available today, Tuesday, February 7th

New York Times bestselling author Deborah Crombie is a native Texan who has lived in England and Scotland. With A Killing of Innocents, she adds another ledger to her mystery series that focus on Scotland Yard detectives Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James. They must solve the stabbing death of a young woman before panic spreads across London. 

On a rainy November evening, a young woman is rushing through the crowd in London's historic Russell Square when someone emerges out of the darkness and jostles her. After the person has brushed past, she stumbles and collapses against a tree. 

When a young mother finds her body and alerts police, Detective Superintendent Kincaid and his sergeant, Doug Cullen, are called to the scene. The victim is Sasha Johnson, who is a trainee doctor at a nearby hospital, and she has been stabbed.

Kincaid wastes no time in calling his detective wife, Gemma, who has recently been put on a task force focusing on knife crime. Along with her partner, Melody Talbot, Gemma is now part of the investigation. 

The one thing that becomes apparent is that Sasha is not the typical knife crime victim. She is single, successful, daughter of a black professional family, and she has no history of abusive relationships or connections to gangs. 

However, Sasha did have secrets, and Kincaid uncovered an awkward connection to his Notting Hill friends Wesley and Betty Howard.

As they delve into Sasha's tangled relationships, another stabbing has put London on edge, and Kincaid' team needs all their resources to find the killer stalking the streets of Bloomsbury.

The Devil's Ransom: A Pike Logan Novel

By Brad Taylor

William Morrow; hardcover, 432 pages; $28.99

Brad Taylor, Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.), is a 21-year veteran of the U.S. Army Infantry and Special Forces, which includes eight years with the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment - Delta, popularly known as Delta Force. Taylor retired in 2010 after serving more than two decades and participating in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, plus many classified operations around the globe. His final military post was as assistant professor of military science at The Citadel. He has written 16 books in the Pike Logan series, all of which have been New York Times bestsellers, and he also is a security consultant on asymmetric threats for various agencies.

The Devil's Ransom is the latest installment of the Pike Logan series of novels, and in this thriller, Pike is racing to stop an insidious attack orchestrated by a man who knows America's most treasured secrets.

While Pike and Jennifer were conducting a routine cover deployment trip to Tajikistan, they learn that Afghanistan has fallen, and there's a man on the run. This is someone who has done more for the United States in Afghanistan than anyone else, and Pike is pulled in to extract him.

What Pike uncovers is a broader mystery. His covert company, as well as every other entity in the Taskforce, has been hit with a ransomware attack, and there is some connection between the Taliban and the hack. 

When he is given the order to track down the perpetrators, he has no idea that the problem is set is much, much larger and more dangerous than a simple attack on his organization. That hack was just a test-run, with the real one coming soon, engendered by a former NSA specialist in the U.S. government.

The turncoat, a man who wants to return to the bipolar world of the Cold War, has cloaked his attack behind hackers from Serbia and Russia, and if successful, his target has the potential to alter the balance of power on the global stage. 

So far, the specialist has remained one step ahead of the Taskforce, but he has just one mistake, and that is hitting Pike Logan.

Daughters of Victory

By Gabriella Saab

William Morrow Paperbacks; paperback, 512 pages; $17.99

Gabriella Saab is the author The Last Checkmate (click here for our review from October 2021), and she is one of the co-hosts of @hfchitchat on Twitter, a recurring monthly chat and community celebrating the love of reading and writing historical fiction. She is of Lebanese heritage, and lives in her hometown of Mobile, Alabama, where she is a barre instructor. She graduated from Mississippi State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration.

Daughters of Victory takes place in Russia right after the Revolution that ended the Romanov dynasty and imperial Russia forever. Looking at both the Bolsheviks, who eventually became the Communist part of the Soviet Union, and the Socialist Revolutionaries, which was a socialist party in opposition to the Bolsheviks, Saab provides a more in-depth and nuanced view of the parties and their members as they strive for power.

This incisive novel follows three Russian women who are caught up in the revolution and resistance movements in post-revolution Russia. Svetlana is a former aristocrat and Social Revolutionist, Orlova is a Bolshevik assassin, and Mila is Svetlana's granddaughter fighting against the Germans after they invade during World War II.

In the part set in Russia in 1917, Svetlana Petrova, who is beautiful and educated, defied her stifling aristocratic family to join a revolution that promises freedom. She has just been released from years of imprisonment, and now discovers that her socialist party is vying for power against the dictatorial Bolsheviks, and that her beloved uncle who championed the cause, was murdered by a mysterious assassin named Orlova. She is known for blinding her victims before she kills them. Svetlana has vowed to avenge her uncle's death by destroying this vicious opponent, while also striving to reunite with the daughter she has not seen in years.

Move ahead the 1941, in the USSR, and Svetlana is now living in obscurity in a remote village. She has opened her home to Mila Rozovskaya, the eighteen-year-old granddaughter from Leningrad who she has never met. Svetlana is aiming to keep Mila safe from the oncoming Nazi invasion, but when the village is occupied by them, she sees Mila fall under the spell of the resistance. This echoes Svetlana's once-passionate idealism, and as Mila takes up the fight, dangerous secrets and old enemies soon threaten all she holds dear. For Svetlana to protect her family, she must confront her long-buried past, yet if the truth prevails, it holds the power to save or shatter them.

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