Tag Archives: Kirk McGarvey novel

Almost down for the count, Kirk McGarvey rebounds to outdo the bad guys

Flash Points, by David Hagberg. Forge. 320 pages. Hardcover $25.99.

This electrifying thriller continues the battle between his continuing hero, Kirk McGarvey, and the shrewd, highly skilled freelance assassin introduced in Tower Down (reviewed in these pages). Let’s call that man, who has several identities, Kamal. He has roots in Saudi Arabia, but easily blends into Western environments. For sale to the highest bidder, he has his own agenda.  

At the top of Kamal’s list is the murder of “Mac,” his nemesis. Not only must he cleanse the world of this CIA operative and former director, Kamal needs to see Mac suffer, and maybe Mac’s girlfriend as well. Mac had foiled Kamal’s plan to bring down a second Manhattan skyscraper in “Tower Down.”

However, what’s making Kamal a very wealthy man is his agreement to put Mac out of the way for other reasons. Groups with opposing attitudes toward the new U. S. president want Mac out of the way because he is the person most likely to detect and foil their plans.

The group wishing to discredit the new president is bankrolling a series of terrorist catastrophes meant to undermine the stature of the inexperienced, ill equipped president. He will, so goes the scheme, inevitably blunder in ways that will make his replacement inevitable. This group’s leaders have put Kamal on their payroll.

The cadre that supports the new president wishes to use similar schemes to opposite ends. They will be manipulating events to make him look good; not only will the outcome assure solidifying his base, but also expanding it.

Hagberg

The novel opens with an explosion meant to destroy Mac’s car and him with it. Planned by Kamal, misplacement of the explosive material by a hireling lessens the impact. Nonetheless, Mac loses a leg. The CIA leadership thinks it best for him to recuperate in secret and for the word to get out that he has been killed.

While Mac gets used to his peg leg and recovers from other wounds, he participates in the planning that will draw out the crafty Kamal.

Mr. Hagberg alternates the center of consciousness so that readers switch back and forth between following Kamal’s thoughts, emotions, and actions and following Mac’s. The tradecraft and courage of each is well displayed, as is their sharp contrast in values. Suspense builds higher and higher as the inevitable confrontation draws closer and closer. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the May 23, 2018 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the May 24 Naples, Bonita Springs, Charlotte County, and Palm Beach editions, click here:  Florida Weekly – Flash Points

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A towering achievement in the techno-thriller genre with a grim political vision

Tower Down, by David Hagberg. Forge. 320 pages.  Hardcover $25.99.

Book 21 in the Kirk McGarvey novel series is, among other things, a story about super-luxury real estate, the investment strategies of the super-rich, and the enormous vanity and sense of privilege that infects those who have virtually unlimited wealth. These are people whose goal is to invest their money in whatever will bring them more money. They interact with one another in a closed world, vying for seats at the parties where you meet those who can get you on the lists for the upcoming super-deals. 

Mr. Hagberg brings us a post 9/11 world in which the same American longing for the monumental that motivated radical Islam’s destruction of U.S.  symbols of superiority (exceptionalism?) is about to be repeated.

Manhattan is dotted with “pencil towers,” enormously high, narrow buildings whose huge residential compartments demand enormous prices and whose owners are literally and figuratively on top of the world. Vulnerable to winds, the towers are kept in balance by colossal counterweights – “tuned mass dampers” – that adjust to the force of the winds that would otherwise lead to the towers’ collapse.

The main developer of these towers, like his engineers and buyers, is susceptible to the technological vanity that has proven misguided in the past.

A freelance madman, code-named Al-Nassr, “the Eagle,” masterminds the collapse of one of these towers at 87th Street. Fortunately, few of the units had been sold and occupied. Still, hundreds of people are killed both inside and outside of the building. It was 9/11 revisited without the need for airplanes.

Hagberg

Or it would be if a twin tower were to be brought down. And that second step is in the works.  The target tower would collapse onto the United Nations complex. Great symbolism, eh?

Series hero Kirk McGarvey, a former CIA director (and assassin), is once again engaged to discover the details of the plot and undermine it. His theory, shared by just about no one, is that the Saudis (or perhaps one Saudi) is behind it. The purpose of the destruction is to have another attack on the U.S.  that can readily be blamed on ISIS, the main threat to Saudi Arabia’s stability. By this ruse, the Saudi schemers hope to motivate the U.S. to vastly increase its military operations against ISIS.

McGarvey’s (“Mac’s”) view is shared only by two people: his beautiful CIA operative love interest – Pete Boylan –  and Otto Rencke, a good friend who is an unusual techno-genius. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the June 28, 2017 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the June 29 Naples, Bonita Springs, Punta Gorda / Port Charlotte, and Palm Beach editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Tower Down

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Penetrating thriller treats deep-cover spycraft and apocalyptic danger

End Game, by David Hagberg. Forge. 320 pages. Hardcover $25.99.

This latest Kirk McGarvey novel is a major tour de force for its prolific and widely-praised author. Sarasota author David Halberg seems to dare himself with the riskiest premise, leaving readers to wonder if he can manage those self-made challenges of plotting, suspense, and characters at the edge of plausible definition. What kind of serial killer leaves his mark by eating through the faces and throats of his victims? Is this a mania or a message? endgamecover_hagbergf16

It’s easy for the top strata of CIA insiders to understand the common denominators that define the victim pool. They are all a certain kind of CIA outside insider; that is, they are (or were) NOCs, agents who work under Non-Official Cover. These are operatives who assume covert roles in organizations without official ties to the government. Some, including several in this novel, are somehow repatriated into normal roles within the CIA.

Seven such agents have something else in common: they were all part of or knew about an operation in Kirkuk, the major Iraqi petroleum center. Something was buried above city just before the Second Gulf War, and its discovery and implementation threaten to set off World War Final.

Who’re you gonna call? In a Kirk McGarvey novel you’re going to call Kirk, a former CIA director who is often brought in on special cases. Once you call Kirk, you’re going to hear from his occasional squeeze, Pete Boylan, a brave and beautiful agent who will inevitable get in Kirk’s way – emotionally, that is.

Hagberg

Hagberg

Though this thriller has international sweep, taking readers to Greece, France, Israel, and other locations, many scenes are set at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia just outside of Washington, D. C. In these scenes, the authoritative detail is compelling (whether it is truly accurate or not is another matter). Mr. Hagberg puts us right on the spot, whether he is presenting extended vistas of the campus, main buildings or outbuildings, or the interiors of offices and meeting rooms. Security and other technical features are highlighted, and the reality of the CIA characters is enhanced by the way they related to their environment.

In the courtyard at CIA headquarters stands Kryptos, a piece of statuary designed to reveal important secrets of if it can be decoded. Its four engraved copper panels, once deciphered, predict the means and purpose of the serial killings. Re-writing history is part of the agenda. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the October 12, 2016 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the October 13 Naples, Bonita Springs, and Punta Gorda / Port Charlotte editions, click here: Florida Weekly – End Game

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