cover image Blue Fire

Blue Fire

John Gilstrap. Kensington, $26 (512p) ISBN 978-1-4967-2857-9

Gilstrap’s engrossing sequel to 2021’s Crimson Phoenix finds former U.S. Congresswoman Victoria Emerson continuing to organize an Ortho, W.Va., community of like-minded survivors of Hell Day, an “eight-hour conflict that left the world in ruins” 34 days earlier and wiped out all 21st-century technology. Then troops led by Capt. Roy Magill, of the Maryland National Guard, show up. Magill, who claims to represent the U.S. Army, threatens to arrest members of the Ortho community unless they hand over their provisions. His brutish intimidation tactics lead to a firefight and mass casualties for his side. In the aftermath, as rumors and reports of marauding groups grow, the community prepares for an inevitable reprisal attack. Meanwhile, Emerson’s missing 18-year-old son, Adam, tries to protect his pregnant girlfriend as they make their way to Top Hat Mountain, where he hopes to reunite with his family. Power struggles among surviving U.S. government officials hunkered down in D.C.-area bunkers add to the drama. Fans of doomsday military thrillers will delight in the resilience of Gilstrap’s family of preppers and their quest for survival on their terms. Readers will eagerly await the next installment. Agent: Molly Friedrich, Friedrich Agency. (Feb.)