Rakkim Epps is a moderate Muslim employed as a Fedayeen, or elite "shadow warrior" working for the Seattle-based headquarters of the Republic. In the two novels prior to Heart, he has come to realize that the destabilization and conflict came not from terrorist organizations, but from a man called the Old One, a wealthy puppeteer who believes himself to be the Mahdi that will inaugurate a worldwide caliphate. The Old One has continued to manipulate world events to reach his goal, but Rakkim and several people in both the Republic and the Bible Belt are working to stop him.
As in the first two books of the series, Ferrigno does an excellent job setting up the society of a moderate majority Islamic nation set in the former U.S. There are radio call-in shows asking questions about sharia law, descriptions of the different accommodations religious and cultural groups make to the majority religion, allusions to the history of the two nations and so on. But in wrapping up his trilogy, Ferrigno seems as though he has a little bit more story than he has book to put it in, with a number of features much more rushed than they were in the former volumes. It's still a great end of the trilogy and an interesting exploration of whether what makes the United States the United States is greater than what might divide it.
At the end of her 2010 novel Hangman, Los Angeles police lieutenant Peter Decker and his wife Rina Lazarus Decker became the unofficial foster parents of Gabe Whitman, the teenaged son of two young people Decker had dealt with during their own teenage years. Gabe's father is a mob hitman and his mother has left the country to be with a new husband, fearing for her life. Decker and his team begin to examine the suicide of a student at a posh private school, seeing little evidence at first that it is anything other than what it's been ruled -- a self-inflicted gunshot wound. But another such death at the same school is more than a coincidence, and the pieces of the puzzle start to add up the wrong way, uncovering some disturbed and disturbing young lives. The expanding investigation may pull Gabe into its midst, perhaps also threatening his relationship with a young woman that has to be secret because of her family's closed culture and religion. Persian Jews, they would not approve of their daughter's involvement with a secular young man like Gabe.
The mystery is intriguing and the characterizations match Kellerman's usual skillful output. Gabe seems rather adult for his years, but he's had that kind of upbringing. He also seems a little "too good to be true" as a boyfriend for his young sweetheart, demonstrating a level of sensitivity that's matched by few adult men, let alone teenage boys. Kellerman's descriptions of their trysts are really too graphic considering the ages of the participants and drops the otherwise entertaining Gun Games well to the bottom of the Decker-Lazarus series.