cover image Blowback


James Patterson and Brendan DuBois. Little, Brown, $29 (512p) ISBN 978-0-316-49963-7

Early in this fast-moving thriller from bestseller Patterson (the Alex Cross series) and DuBois (the Lewis Cole series), President Keegan Barrett, a former CIA director, tells CIA officers Liam Grey and Noa Himel that he’s tired of America being “the world’s punching bag.” He’s setting up two CIA teams, one domestic and one foreign, with authorization to “break things, kill bad guys, and bring back our enemies’ heads in a cooler.” Despite it being illegal for the CIA to operate on American soil, Liam and Noa carry out a series of successful missions on Keegan’s behalf. Eventually, the two begin to have doubts about what they’re doing, and it becomes clear that Keegan—who has expanded his personal kill list—is sounding more than a little delusional. The president is soon acting totally paranoid, good people start to die, and war with China looms. The authors offer nothing new, but they throw in some historical anecdotes of interest, deliver tense action scenes, and tie up all the loose ends. Those who haven’t already encountered the insane president plot will have fun. Agent: Robert Barnett, Williams & Connolly. (Sept.)