I’ll Take Your Questions Now: What I Saw at the Trump White House, by Stephanie Grisham

Eight stars

While I have read a number of books about life in the Trump Administration, from both reporters and historians, it is nice to get an insider’s point of view to balance the storytelling. Stephanie Grisham’s various roles with both the President and First Lady allow her to offer some first-hand accounts of events, adding validity to the narrative. While some call it a cash grab, Grisham effectively shows that pulling back the curtain to offer the truth is the best way to go about dispelling myths. A tell-all of sorts that offers justifications on both sides of the fence, which is likely to impress and anger people in equal measure.

Grisham explores her long-time work with the Trump Team, dating back to an awkward meeting in a women’s washroom with The Donald during an early 2016 presidential primary. That oddity set the tone for the next number of years, in which Grisham would be one of the closest members of the group, seeing a great deal more than many others. She speaks frankly about the aura around Trump, while injecting her sentiment that it would be a long shot for him to win the ultimate goal, control of the White House. However, as many readers will know, America entered some sort of vortex and reality took a break for four years.

Grisham took on an interior role within the White House as soon as the inauguration ended, working with the Communications Team before being poached by the First Lady. Grisham recounts many intriguing stories about Melania Trump and working so closely to her. Pulling on a number of the stories that popped up in the headlines, Grisham seeks to dispel some of the media spin about the First Lady and her perceived rough exterior, turning it into an exploration of how the third Mrs. Trump was misunderstood and sought to keep things in some form of higher level of decorum.

Another key theme throughout the book was the dislike Grisham had for the First Children, citing their spoiled nature and constant need for the spotlight. While all of the elder Trump children vied for publicity, it would appear that Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, went above and beyond to turn the White House and Trump presidency into their own game, in which they would be in control of massive power simply by dropping POTUS’s name. Ivanka’s moniker of Princess was shared by many and it appears to ring true, at least based on the stories that emerge throughout this piece.

There was a strong sense of sycophancy throughout the book, justifying the actions of Trump and Melania on many occasions, though the barbed comments help offset the irritating justifications. Readers must surely understand that working with a man whose ego is as delicate as a piece of china. Pushing too hard could, and likely would, lead to a dismissal by Twitter pronouncement. Grisham explains that this was quite common and the lack of decency around it was not lost on many within the West Wing.

While I do not need a tell-all book to sway me into believing that Donald Trump ran a tight and chaotic ship, it is interesting to get yet another insider’s look into how things played out to justify some of the sentiments I have felt for a long while. Grisham pulls no punches, though shields the First Family throughout the piece as well, perhaps not feeling the need to air dirty laundry or risk libel. Still, it was eye opening to see some of the backstories surrounding media events and insider news that may not have made it into the press on a daily basis. With her well-developed chapters and ease with which she can transmit it, Grisham does a formidable job at conveying the truth as she knows it. Readers will likely be impressed to see behind the curtain, even if there is a haze of aggrandisement at times as well.

Kudos, Madam Grisham, for a balanced look at life in the Trump White House and the circus that became America’s Olympus of political power.

Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could, by Adam Schiff

Nine stars

Always eager to see what’s going on in the world of US Politics, I was happy to get my hands on this political memoir by Adam Schiff. A key player for the Democrats in the House of Representatives during the Trump Administration, Schiff takes the reader through his political journey. From humble beginnings through to being one of President Trump’s most mocked enemies, Schiff offers some insightful views into the way Washington shifted and how congressional work was much more difficult over those four years.

Adam Schiff opens the book putting things in context, almost foreshadpwing and foreboding where things were headed in the latter chapters. While he mentions much around the two impeachment trials and the January 6th, 2021 insurrection, Schiff does takes readers back to where it all began. A frugal life in a Jewish family, Schiff learned the value of both parties from his politically active parents. The value of debate and hearing both sides of the argument became an essential part of the Schiff household, allowing Adam to see just how important a well-rounded education might be.

After working hard through school along the West Coast, Schiff scored a prestigious spot at Harvard Law, where his studies were enriched with some of the strongest legal minds in the country, something that he would come back to later in the book. Schiff had a passion for them aw and wanted to use it to help others, doing so both in private practice and within the District Attorney’s office, where he got a taste for all things related to the law. This would also have Schiff discover the influence that politics could have in the hands of those who remained intuitive.

After a few drubbings, Schiff was helped in his bid to win a seat to the House of Representatives. It was there that Adam Schiff saw some of his dreams and aspirations come to life. Able to serve his constituency and America as a whole, Schiff worked diligently through some of the tensest moments of the early 21st century, coming out with a greater respect for the legislative process and his fellow members. Schiff rose through the ranks and was eventually awarded key committee posts, allowing him to hone his skills and serve even more effectively.

While Schiff does delve a great deal into the 2016 election and the emergence of Donald J. Trump, it was only after the new Administration began acting in a highly reckless manner that Democrats took notice and sought to stop things. Much is made of discussions around aid to Ukraine in return for assistance, which led to impeachment investigations into POTUS. Schiff explores how his role as chair on the House Intelligence Committee allowed him to see a great deal of information that cemented the illegality of Trump’s actions. Delving into both the political and legal aspects of this, Schiff provides the reader its some foundational context.

Schiff was also a key player where Articles of Impeachment were crafted, debated, and passed in the House of Representatives, with details emerging in the book about how Trump’s guilt appeared apparent. However, there was still a great deal of rhetoric and drama around the process, called a ‘witch hunt’ by some and ‘partisan politics’ by others. While the Articles passed, divisions in the country were only to become more deeply apparent throughout the process. When Schiff served as a Manager for the impeachment trial, things only got more tense and Trump unleashed more barbs sure to bring down a lesser man.

The latter portion of the book explores the impeachment itself, where Schiff led the arguments in the Senate and sought to persuade many not only of Trump’s guilt, but the need to act on it and no longer cower the shadows, worried about what POTUS would do. It became more and more apparent that many Republicans worried about their re-election possibilities in light of defying their ‘so-called leader’. Many readers will know how things turned out, but to see some of the insider discussions adds depth to the piece.

The 2020 presidential election and the foibles around that vote were also front and centre in the book, a topic with which many are familiar. Schiff details the events throughout the campaign, including here falsehoods about mail-in balloting and assertions that Trump made about re-election being guaranteed or there was surely corruption taking place. All this led to the dramatic assertions about bullying of a stolen election and culminated in the January 6, 2021 insurrection. No one ever said US politics were boring!

While I could go on and on about the book and its content, I want to give the curious reader something to read and enjoy for themselves. Schiff writes in such a way that the reader cannot help but want to read more, with details and wonderful anecdotes that personalise the experience. His style is clear and concise, allowing the reader to see his views without feeling bullied if they do not share them. Detailed and thorough, Schiff does not stand down in the face of adversity and bullying of his own by Trump, but chooses to present the truths he has come to know and the worries he has for the country he loves. Well-paced chapters, clear chronologies, and a great deal of supporting documentation make this a must read for anyone looking for something to keep their political curiosities burning. I know I’ll be keeping an eye on how things progress (regress) in the US and what Adam Schiff has to say about it all!

Kudos, Mr. Schiff, for an insightful and detailed exploration of all this political. It’s nice to see another perspective that shows, yet again, how derailed POTUS 45 became throughout his presidency and out of touch with the general well-being of the country’s population he remained.

Hooker Avenue (Jessie Martin #2), by Jadé Millman

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to Reedsy Discovery and Jodé Millman for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Having been handed this ARC by Jodé Millman, I dove into the series debut first, in hopes that they would complement one another well and keep me intrigued until the final page turn. Millman does well and keeps pace in this second novel, which does not leave the reader tired at any point throughout the intense thriller.

Jessie Martin is back as a great legal mind in upstate New York. The young lawyer has a lot to prove and is ready for most anything that comes her way. While driving home in a torrential storm, Jessie comes across a woman who is in dire need of assistance. Thinking that she can be a Good Samaritan, Jessie tries to help, only to find herself pulled into the middle of something far more dangerous.

When Detective Ebony Jones answers the call and attends the scene, Jessie is torn while also filled with emotions. Ebony was once Jessie’s close friend, but something’s happened, an event that is best left shelved until things quiet down. Ebony and her partner have actively been persuing a number of sex workers who have up and disappeared, their bodies assaulted by some unknown assailant. With a live victim, things could be different, but Ebony will have to act fast, putting her row with Jessie to the side.

Jessie is offered a great new position in a law firm, one that will help her as a single mother. However, this comes as a significant cost and impedes her from being able to work the case alongside Ebony. When her employer becomes the attorney for the woman who was attacked, Jessie must straddle two worlds and hope that she can work effectively without putting added strain on her disintegrating friendship.

While working through the case, Jessie must also deal with a personal life that is in a spiral. One man seeking to win her heart and another wanting her dead for past legal transgressions, Jessie Martin will have to face things head-on, in hopes of making a difference in the lives of many. This is one time in her life that Jessie wished things were simpler and without drama. Millman does it again with a great piece that stirs up emotion and suspense in the same breath.

Jadé Millman offers readers something stellar to contemplate as they read this piece, mixing drama and legal matters into a single story. There is a great deal going on herein, providing the reader a great deal of excitement in a series that is gaining momentum. I have high hopes for Millman and her exciting protagonist, who is growing on me bit by bit.

Millman uses a strong narrative throughout the piece to keep the reader in the middle of all the action. With a decent amount of character development and some plot twists, the reader is drawn into all the drama with each turn of the page. Serving as a legal thriller on the one hand and a crime story on the other, Millman mixes them well, developing a constant depth to her protagonist, Jessie Martin. I am eager to see what comes of this series and how Millman will continue developing things for her fans.

Kudos, Madam Millman, for another great piece. You are evolving as the series progresses and I hope things continue to advance accordingly.

The Judge’s List (Whistler #2), by John Grisham

Eight stars

Always a fan of John Grisham’s work, I eagerly reached for this book. Grisham dazzles as usual when using the law as his background, and keeps the reader focussed on the case of a corrupt and criminally responsible judge, without revealing too much all at once. Grisham’s work remains top notch and I am eager to see if there is more to this series, as the ending left things slightly open for interpretation.

Lacy Stoltz has a history of staring down the truth and making tough choices, never more so than when investigating members of the judicial branch. Almost dying for her efforts during a recent case, Lacy has never stood down from bringing justice into the light while keeping her role on the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct on track.

It is during her work that Lacy meets Jeri Crosby, a woman so scared that she tries to mask her identity however she can. The murder of Jeri’’s father remains a cold case two decades after it occurred, having lost anyone advocating for the victim. Jeri is sure that there is something others missed, particularly when two other victims emerge, even as a killer has yet to be found.

Jeri points the finger not at a known criminal, but rather a sitting Florida judge. As Lacy listens, she learns that Jeri has been accumulating evidence for years and thinks that she has connected some random pieces of evidence. However, this is not a simple case of warrant and arrest, but rather one in which one of the most powerful legal authorities in the state has to be called out for his apparent actions. Lacy is ready to act, but must do so carefully, or fear blowback like no other.

On the other side of the coin is the judge, whose sly actions are that of a conniving serial killer, remaining one step ahead of those in authority. He has a list of victims and motive to fuel his actions, though much of it is unknown to the general public. While the killings pile up, Lacy must not only catch him, but prove that he, a judicial hero, could have done all those horrible crimes. It will take cunning and patience, but if she does not stand down, Lacy is sure to add herself to that list and die trying to stop its fulfillment. Grisham at his best with an eerie twist, sure to impress many who enjoy these type of stories.

I have long enjoyed the stories of John Grisham, mixing the law with some form of moral cause. His novels usually pull the reader from their comfort zone and leave an indelible mark on their psyche, such that there is no turning back. In this piece, Grisham mixes legal matters with a criminal game of cat and mouse, in which there can only be one winner. All this while allowing the reader a front row seat to all the action.

As with some of his best novels, Grisham uses a strong narrative to build on the themes laid out early in the story. The roadmap for the piece may not be as straightforward as some would like, but it is paced and shows promise from the outset. Strong characters, both likeable and despised, appear throughout the pages of the story, offering glue to keep things together. Grisham injects plot twists throughout to keep the reader, who knows the killer from the early pages, from getting too comfortable. In a sequel that begs for more to come, Grisham leaves readers wondering if there is more to say about Lacy Stoltz, whose personal life is on full display as well. Less a legal thriller than criminal one, Grisham shows versatility and strong writing that will impress many who take the time to explore this book, as well as the two pieces of writing that add to the series.

Kudos, Mr. Grisham, on a winning publication, sure to keep your fans appeased. I am eager to see what else you have been working on lately.

The Midnight Call, by Jodé Millman

Seven stars

After being handed the newest novel by Jodé Millamn, I thought it best to start at the beginning of this series. Millman develops a decent story for most readers, tapping into some emotional and high-intensity stuff from the outset. While it was not the most captivating legal thriller I have read, it was decent enough to pass the time.

Jessie Martin is a decent lawyer whose education helped pave the way to a successful career. Then, late one night. she got a call she was hardly expecting or prepared for, with chilling news. Jessie’s friend and long-tome mentor, Terrence Butterfield, seeks her help after admitting that he killed someone.

Sending Jessie into a spiral, she tries to compose herself while trying to come to terms with Terrence’s admission. Now she has a decision to make; should she help the man or stay a fair distance away? Jessie cannot turn her back on the man who made her who she is today, but doing so will certainly bring out a great deal of risk to all parts of her life.

As Jessie goes to help Terrence, she is pulled into something even more sinister when a body is discovered in his home. Might Terrence have been playing on Jessie’s emotions from the get-go, trying to get her to help him, while remaining a horrible monster all along? Jessie will have to trust her gut and legal instincts to get her out of this mess before too long. Millman does well with this series debut to paint quite a picture for the reader!

Many who know my reading likes would expect me to fawn over this book, particularly because of all the twists it appears to present. Jadé Millman offers readers something to contemplate throughout this piece, with some strong plot ideas and a decent delivery. I would not call it stunning, but it did keep me thinking and pondering what I might expect as the series continues.

Millman offers a decent narrative throughout the piece, keeping the reader in the middle of things as the story unfolds. There is a decent amount of character development and some plot twists that are sure to keep the reader wondering well into the night. While a legal thriller on the one hand and a crime thriller on the other, Millman is able to mix the two fairly well, without knocking me over with either. I am eager to see what is to come with this series and whether Jessie Martin will make more of an impact on me in the follow-up story, for which I have an ARC ready to read.

Kudos, Jodé Millman, for a decent debut. Let’s we where things go in the next novel!

The Silver Serpent (Ben Hope #25), by Scott Mariani

Eight stars

Scott Mariani is back with another in his Ben Hope series. The story remains strong and takes readers to the opposite side of the world., where things are just as gritty for Hope and those around him. Mariani does well to balance humour and action, with just enough romantic spark to keep readers appeased across the board. A great addition to the series that is sure to keep fans of Mariani’s work quite happy.

While Ben Hope has been enjoying life in France, he knows that his services are so sought after the world over. When his business partner and close friend, Jeff Decker, approaches him with an issue, there is no doubt that Ben will help. Decker’s step-father has gone missing in the Australian Outback and there’s no guarantee that he’s still alive.

After gathering some provisions, Ben gets finds himself soaring above the clouds for the great Down Under alongside Jeff. As they arrive, the kidnapping case gets even more serious, as answers are not plentiful. While Jeff wants to support his mother, he knows that it will take close to a miracle for anything positive to come out of this. However, there is a new angle, one that could really open up some new and exciting opportunities.

It would seem that it’s not only crocodiles and barren wasteland in the Northern Territory, but also an old legend about a major silver mine, one that has many salivating for a piece of the pie, including a ruthless businessman who will stop at nothing to amass riches in the region. Ben and Jeff will have to work their magic, sometimes independently, to find answers before it’s too late. A great addition to the series that will have Mariani fans quite pleased with the latest instalment.

There is something about Scott Mariani’s writing that always gets me excited. I love the thrill of the hunt in these books, where Ben Hope has been forced to evolve and grow for the reader throughout. There is something for everyone in this series, which has not gone stale after so many novels. Well-paced and powerfully penned, Mariani has a winner here for all to see.

Ben Hope has proven himself over the last number of novels, but this is a time for new development and perhaps some added personal insight as well. Ben has been through a great deal and yet never seems to toss in the towel. This piece allows the reader not only to see him on a new terrain, but to come to terms with some of his buried emotions, all while trying to help fight for those who are in need of his brawn. Mariani has done well to ensure his protagonist is anything but one dimensional, adding a little spark of romance to keep things light.

The Ben Hope series mixes some wonderful writing with great plots and an attractive set of characters. Mariani works through a strong narrative to propel the story forward, keeping the reader hooked with short chapters and numerous characters that are well worth the reader’s time. A plot that evolves throughout, taking the reader through many twists and turns. Using some well-developed ideas in Australia, Mariani takes the reader there and leaves them to feel as though they are in the middle of the action, slang and all. I was so pleased to see things develop with ease and am excited to see what is to come with this series that never seems to lose momentum at any point.

Kudos, Mr. Mariani, for another winner. How you do it, I have no idea!

Watergate: A New History, by Garrett M. Graff

Nine stars

As the fiftieth anniversary of the Watergate break-in approaches, I thought it a wonderful ides to turn to this new book by Garrett M. Graff to see a new exploration of this moment in history. Graff presents a comprehensive history, not only of the break-in, showing how events on that June night led to the downfall of one American president and soured the country towards politicians, at least more than was already in place. Graff’s detailed analysis will capture the attention of the reader throughout and provide something worthwhile to explore as the country looks back on a half-century of healing and renewed distrust in those holding power.

While many are aware of the Watergate break-in, at least in passing, Graff explores the lead-up to thinks and how Richard M. Nixon was in the middle of it all. A man who was as insecure with his hold on the American people as any other politician, Nixon sought to secure his hold on the presidency and the White House through enduring the downfall of those around him, particularly Democrats and anyone seeking to expose his dealings with others. While many of those around Nixon were smart and able-bodied men, the degree of sycophancy is baffling, both as the plot to enter the Democratic National Headquarters was hatched and the plan came to fruition. Nixon was in the middle of it, though he appeared to layer himself with a number of others willing to take at least some of the blame.

Graff looks at the break-in and other criminal acts that took place, then follows the thread of the discussion around how Nixon tried to downplay things in the public eye, choosing the wash his hands of those who were caught, as was the plan all along. As a number of journalists got their hands on information, the pressure rose, but Nixon kept deferring to the acts of others and how he had no idea what was going on. The smoking gun, or tape recorder, emerged with a number of recorded conversations Nixon had, incriminating him throughout the process and making it clear that he tried to use executive power to be above the law. Nixon skirted justice as best he could, but there was no way to ignore the disaster that was coming.

Graff’s excellent analysis of the political aspect of things is second to none. Congress, though wanting to slowly ensure things were actually as they seemed, acted and began investigations, something that soon garnered bipartisan and bicameral support, showing that Nixon’s actions could not be ignored by those within his own party. The wheels were in motion to bring the president to his knees, not in an act of political power grabbing, but to show the country that no man or woman is above the law. Exploring the congressional actions, Graff allows the reader to have a wonderfully detailed look inside the proceedings and how many players sought to shape American’s future in their own way. The outcome, everyone knows, but how things ramped up and what led to the Nixon’s resignation are all within the pages of this book. A stunning account of a man who surely showed POTUS 45 how lying and cheating could be done. Too bad no one caught the most recent former POTUS with his hand in the cookie jar enough to share the sycophantic blinders from their eyes.

Gathering all the background material and synthesising it into a single book is surely one of the great things about this tome. Garrett M. Graff does a formidable job of this, keeping the reader on the the edge of their seats, while also educated on the nuances of this major political happening. Thorough discussion throughout keeps the narrative fresh and highly alluring, with something new to learn with every page turn. Chapters pace the story of Watergate well, inserting great place holders for the reader who is only able to digest a small portion of the goings-on in one sitting. An easy to comprehend examination of events allows the reader to feel a part of the action, while also permitting a front row seat to everything catastrophic as it transpired. I will be sure to find and read more of Graff’s work, as I could not put this one down!

Kudos, Mr. Graff, for a great walk down the annals of American history. I cannot wait to see and read whatever else you have published.

Billy Summers, by Stephen King

Seven stars

Stephen King is one of the most versatile writers I have discovered in my many years of reading. While many know him for his horror and supernatural work, King has some great reads that flirt with other genres, and do so well. This is a branching out yet again, more of a noir thriller where the protagonist reveals himself slowly throughout the piece, tasked with a goal and finding other important events along the way. King does a stellar job pulling the reader in from the opening pages, as they learn a little more about Billy Summers throughout. A winner for those with great patience!

Billy Summers is a hired killer who presents himself as being overly simple. While he is the best in the business, many wonder about his intelligence, which he has been able to mask well over the years. Billy’s only caveat is that anyone he is hired to kill must be a truly bad person. All that being said, Billy is tired of the life and wants out, once and for all.

When he is approached by a Vegas mob boss, he contemplates making this kill his last. A swan song of sorts to allow him to tip his hat and say goodbye to the life. He’s told this is a man whose evil is like to other, making Billy take notice and agree to the kill. Blending into the local community, Billy prepares to do the shooting and hopes nothing gets messy. Of course, ‘the last kill’ could not go off without a hitch and as soon as the bullet kills the man on the courthouse steps, there are witnesses and he is a wanted man.

Now on the lam, Billy tries to stay one step ahead of it all and seems to be doing well. Then, one night, he sees a woman attacked and left for dead, which spurs him on to help her and seek justice. While her is hiding from the authorities, Billy does all he can to help Alice find her way and exact some revenge on the attackers. This creates a connection between them, one that cannot be simply erased with the nod of a head. Billy’s committed and must act accordingly, if for no other reason than he wants to bring justice into the world. A complicated and well-plotted piece by Stephen King, which reminds me why I enjoy the author so much.

Stephen King seems never to run out of ideas, no matter then length of his pieces. This book, much different than anything else I have read by him over the years, touches on so many themes and branches off at times, making me stop to take a moment so I know what I have been reading. King provides the reader with something exciting, intriguing, and altogether entertaining throughout this literary journey, which appears to include many twists and turns.

Billy Summers serves as a useful protagonist, though there is something about him that is not entirely captivating. He has done a lot, seem a great deal in his life, but he prefers to hide in the shadows. As King guides the story along, the reader learns much about Billy, from his time as a war vet to his backstory as a child, all through the guise of his being an author, part of blending into a small community before he commits his final hit. There is much to learn from him throughout this piece, which the reader can devour at their own pace, which remains highly entertained throughout the experience.

The versatility that Stephen King presents in this piece is sure to impress many readers. Those who know him solely as the master of horror will be impressed with how he can recount a tale that does not delve into too much blood and gore, while fans of his mystery work will likely enjoy this game of cat and mouse. King uses a strong narrative to push the story along, complete with typical tangential commentary throughout. A vast array of characters help entertain the reader throughout the experience, as King is a fan of offering much detail up about all those who grace the pages of his book. A plot that is only partially scattered will keep the reader entertained and guessing, as a simple plot line explodes as the story progresses. While not my favourite of his novels, I can see what others might laud about herein. I am eager to get back to some of his grittier work, something King used to pull me in from the start of my exploration of his work.

Kudos, Mr. King, for another great piece your fans will enjoy and discuss for years to come. I hope to see more of your mystery work soon.

The Omega Factor, by Steve Berry

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Steve Berry, Hachette Audio and Grand Central Publishing for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Well-written fiction with a historical flavoring takes on a new level with Steve Berry at the helm. His stories are both rich in their narrative and full of action, providing the reader with a wonderful reading experience. This standalone provides an intriguing look into a historical artifact, peppered with Christian history, that offers context to a great deal of what is purported as truth today. Berry does it again, treating his fans to a stellar read.

History has shown that religious relics are commonly stolen, hidden, and discovered years later. The Ghent Altarpiece is one such item, but holds the title of being the most confiscated item ever, after thirteen instances of being stolen or disfigured. No one seems to know why, until now.

Nicholas Lee has a prestigious job within the United Nations, as a UNESCO investigator. He’s tasked with investigating cultural and religious items, trying to look into their history and displacement. Trying to protect cultural artifacts around the world is a tough job, but Nick’s up for the challenge.

Nick makes his way to Belgium where someone from his past awaits him. Unbeknownst to him, it’s also where a part of the Ghent Alterpiece is being tracked, last seen just before the Second World War. As Nick tries following the trail, he is thrust into the middle of a conflict that has been brewing for centuries, between a secret order of nuns who vow to protect the truth and the Vatican, wanting to bring the Ghent Alterpiece together to make an astounding revelation. As the Maidens of Saint-Michael are revealed, hired guns within the Vatican try to wrest control of the Alterpiece that possesses many secrets, leaving Nick to scramble for safety.

It’s a matter of life and death for Nick and those around him. With twists and turns all throughout the oldest part of Europe, the story takes readers on an adventure that only Berry could construct, both from fiction and well-placed actual facts. A delightfully intense story that will keep fans of the author on the edge of their seats!

I always enjoy when Steve Berry publishes another book, sure to find something entertaining and educational with each story. This was no exception, diving deep into religious history and controversies known to few. Berry extracts these in his narrative and takes the reader on an adventure like no other. Full of history, great characters, and a stellar plot, Berry impresses yet again.

Nick Lee is a great protagonist in this piece, serving not only a great role, but offering readers a treat throughout. There are some wonderful backstory moments, helping the reader to see the man in this standalone thriller, as well as key development throughout. Berry is able to infuse a wonderful depth in his characters and Nick is surely one of the best, both in this story and of the many novels the author has penned. I want to know more and will have to be hyper vigilant, in case Berry brings him along, even in passing, when Cotton Malone returns.

A storyteller of Berry’s ilk knows how to pull a reader in with ease, offering up wonderful stories as they educate in equal measure. The narrative works well and builds throughout, offering history and some education with each page turn. Those who know Berry’s work will join me in agreeing that everything is a mix of fact and fiction, though sometimes it is hard to tell the difference. A cast of well-developed characters and a few plot lines in which they can blossom rounds out the story, keeping the reader on their toes. As always, there is a deep history, involving the Church a great deal of the time, which left me wondering much about what I know and think I expected to be incontrovertible truth. I can see that there is much I do not know and need to learn, as Berry reveals much in the post-script of his book.

Kudos, Mr. Berry, for another great piece. While I miss Cotton Malone, this was definitely well worth the time invested.