cover image Besieged


A.J. Tata. Kensington, $25 (464p) ISBN 978-1-4967-0663-8

Tata, a retired brigadier general, combines distinctive characters and unconventional threats to thrilling effect in his terrific third Jake Mahegan novel (after 2016’s Three Minutes to Midnight). Jake, a former Delta Force operative who was dismissed from the Army for killing an enemy prisoner of war, arrives at an elementary school in rural North Carolina—where Promise White, the daughter of an old Army buddy, is a teacher—just in time to thwart the attempted kidnapping of 11-year-old Misha Constance. An autistic prodigy, Misha has coding skills that are integral to the success of the Cefiro self-driving car company and a terrorist plot to use that same autonomous technology to cripple American infrastructure. When an explosion at the school puts Promise in a coma and Misha later falls into the hands of vicious Iranian terrorist Darius Mirza, Mahegan teams with ER nurse Casey Livingstone to help the brilliant girl take down a threat of her own design. Tata portrays Misha’s autism as more of a superpower than a disability, but he handles the condition with sensitivity and nuance. Agent: Scott Miller, Trident Media Group. (Mar.)