Cover Image: Warning Light

Warning Light

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When a commercial flight violates restricted airspace to make an emergency landing at a closed airport in Iran, the passengers are just happy to be alive and ready to transfer to a functional plane. All of them except one...

The American technology consultant in business class is not who he says he is. Zac Miller is a CIA analyst. And after an agent's cover gets blown, Zac—though never trained to be a field operative—volunteers to take his place, to keep a surveillance mission from being scrubbed. 

Zac thinks it will be easy to photograph the earthquake-ravaged airport that is located near a hidden top secret nuclear facility. But when everything that can go wrong does, he finds himself on the run from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards and abandoned by his own teammates, who think he has gone rogue. Embarking on a harrowing journey through the mountains of Iran to the Persian Gulf and across Europe, Zac can only rely on himself. But even if he makes it out alive, the life he once had may be lost to him forever...

Compulsively readable, this novel starts strong and keeps piling on the tension and action.  Recommended.
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A CIA analyst finds himself in a conflict in the Middle East during a mission. As he does his best to dodge those with malicious intentions, he will have to draw on his instincts and his skills if he wants to get home safe and sound. Debut author David Ricciardi takes readers on a wild and implausible ride in the crazy spy thriller Warning Light.

Zac Miller works out of the CIA’s London office as an analyst. On a trip to Paris to visit a friend, he gets a call from his boss about an important mission that might get scrapped. The agent involved is possibly compromised, and the CIA wants to shut everything down before anyone gets hurt. Zac has spent enough time and energy on the mission to know how important it is, and he knows how crucial it could be to national security. He volunteers to join the mission in progress, and with a great deal of reluctance his boss agrees.

Boarding the plane for the mission is the last thing that goes right for Zac, however. The flight makes an emergency landing in Iran. There Zac gets accosted by security personnel and is separated from the other passengers. Soldiers take him to a secluded spot and demand to know what he knows about their country. Zac insists he’s just passing through, but no one listens. 

He manages to escape but knows it won’t take long for the Iranians to catch up. As he eludes capture time and again, he formulates a plan. If he can just make it back to a Western country, he’ll be able to contact the London office and get help. He doesn’t like placing his bets on that big “if,” but it’s the only chance he has to stay alive and somehow complete the mission.

Author David Ricciardi presents Zac Miller in the opening pages of the book as a mild-mannered analyst just trying to survive. As the story progresses, however, Zac morphs into a combination of James Bond and Jason Bourne: resourceful and suave, regardless of the circumstances. While every spy thriller demands a certain suspension of disbelief, Ricciardi asks too much of his readers in this regard. The book takes Zac from the desert terrain of Iran to the open sea. He gets beaten, tortured, shot, drugged, becomes dehydrated, and goes for extended periods of time without food, but he keeps going. 

The expectation for readers to forgive even the wildest implausibility is only half the problem. The other half is pacing. In a book that comes in at 323 pages in hardback, less than 70 pages focus on other characters. In other words, readers spend more than 250 pages following Zac’s daring escapes, his clever antics, and his bravado as he navigates his way to London from Iran. 

In the meantime, the other parts of the story are so underdeveloped that readers will forget “crucial” elements and experience a “huh?” moment at the big reveal toward the end. The nudge-nudge/wink-wink device of thrillers, when used appropriately, can leave readers grinning with delight. Here all it does is induce an eye roll, because readers don’t get to spend nearly enough time with other characters to enjoy the payoff.

Readers willing to commit to a thriller with the most incredulous situations and outcomes might enjoy this one. Otherwise I recommend readers Bypass Warning Light.
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Hot Thriller for the Summer Reading Stack, WARNING LIGHT by David Ricciardi

This spring's fine Middle East thriller from David Ricciardi has a publication story that's twisted suspense as well: The thriller author self-published his book WARNING LIGHT in 2014 -- then Penguin Random House picked it up, and the following re-edit created what the publishing firm calls a whole new book.

With the power and punch that the April 2018 release packs, I have to guess the earlier version was also intense (wouldn't it be fun to compare them?). I couldn't stop reading ... even in ebook format (my least favorite).

Here's the premise: A CIA desk office, an analyst, happens to be on a plane that gets diverted to a secret closed airport in Iran, where weapons are under construction. There's an actual field operative on the plane, who'd been meant to infiltrate the site -- but in the chaos of arriving, his cover is blown (and so is he).

So Zac Miller takes a couple of quick snapshots of the airport while debarking, to try to fill the information gap for the Agency. But he's not nearly as subtle as he thinks, is almost immediately caught by very unfriendly military types, yet with a bit of luck and guts, makes a narrow escape -- into, of course, the highly dangerous terrain of the Middle East, with the Iranians after him. Oh yes, and his own side, which swallows a clever Iranian frame-up suggesting Zac's gone rogue.

So begins a high-suspense survival trek through terrain that's unfriendly in every sense:

    He paused atop a long scree field. Even in the mountains it was close to one hundred degrees and the heat seared his lungs as he struggled to catch his breath. His legs were sore, his ribs ached from the beating, and he hadn't seen any water. He sat atop the loose rocks and wondered how he would make it out of Iran alive.

Lee Child blurbed this book, which is appropriate, considering the well-structured pace of crises, collaboration, and gutsy survival maneuvers. And the ending is a real delight ... If you appreciate a page-turning thriller with on-the-ground detail and rapid twists, plus a character who grows "just enough" during his run for his life, grab this one. Put it in the summer reading stack -- or sooner! -- for pure release from life's ordinary stresses.

 PS:  Looking for more mystery reviews, from cozy to very dark? Browse the Kingdom Books mysteries review blog here.
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I'm not a huge fan of spy thrillers books, I like a good movie about it though. This book is a page turner and amazingly entertaining. The different characters was a plus and the whole experience was breath taking. The story was great and full of twists and turns. It's perfect for espionage thriller fans.
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Published by Berkley on April 17, 2018

Iran has a “secret” nuclear facility near the site of a recent earthquake, but not so secret that the CIA is unaware of its existence. A British Airways flight with apparent engine and hydraulic problems approaches the airspace over the facility and makes an emergency landing at Sirjan, much to the consternation of the Iranian military, given the flight’s intrusion into prohibited airspace. However, shooting down a crippled civilian craft with a large number of passengers would be bad for Iran’s image, so Zac Miller, an American passenger, finds himself on the ground at an airport that was shut down due to the earthquake. Not long after that, he’s taken prisoner as a suspected spy because he took some pictures of a mountain sunset.

Of course, the Iranians are right. Miller is a spy, but not a field agent. He’s an analyst who is slotted into the mission at the last moment, after the real spy had to drop out. The CIA’s brilliant scheme is to have him take pictures of the “secret” nuclear facility as he strolls across the airport tarmac. And for this they put the lives of everyone on the British Airways flight at risk. The idea is just dumb enough to be real.

Miller is taken prisoner because he’s the only passenger taking pictures of the “secret” facility. With improbable speed, the Iranians set up Miller as a suspect in murders committed in Singapore and Paris. Also improbable is Miller’s escape from custody, but it sets up the cross-country trek that takes up a good part of the story, as Miller tries to evade Iran’s military and make his way to a friendlier environment.

The story takes Miller to Iranian goat herders and later puts him in the hands of Dubai police officers, one of whom lost his wife when the U.S.S. Vincennes, an American naval vessel unlawfully operating in Iranian waters, shot down a civilian aircraft that was leaving Iran. The police officer believes the military action was deliberate; Miller believes it was a mistake. The truth is less clear, but the novel acknowledges that the incident shaped the way many Iranians view the American government.

In any event, Miller feels abandoned by the CIA, which decides that he has gone rogue and turned into a serial killer. The CIA wants to kill Miller because that’s how the CIA solves problems. That creates a classic "good guy must prove his innocence before other good guys kill him unless the bad guys kill him first" plot that is standard in thrillers.

An elderly high society British woman also plays a key role in the story, having taken a shine to Miller while sitting next to him on the British Airways flight. I wasn’t persuaded that she would be so obsessed about a man she knew for such a short time, particularly after she learns that he’s accused of multiple murders.

The plot struck me as a bit farfetched, from the scheme to put civilian passengers on British Airways at risk to the Iranians’ immediate and successful effort to make Miller look like a murderer (maybe Iran has a contingency plan to frame CIA agents). More troubling is that Miller’s adventure is just too easy. He readily evades capture, crosses borders at will, and never faces a threat of death sufficiently serious to cause the reader to worry about his survival. The story lacks tension and suspense. Not all thrillers need to be thrilling, but this one was clearly meant to be, and it falls short of the mark.

The promotional materials for Warning Light emphasize that David Ricciardi incorporated his personal experiences into the novel, including backpacking through the mountains of the western United States. Backpacking in mountains in the US is fun and not particularly dangerous. That’s kind of how Miller’s trip through the mountains in Iran comes across, but for the occasional battle to the death.

Having said that, Ricciardi delivers one good scene involving a sailboat trying to cross the English Channel in a storm that conveys a true sense of excitement and danger. If the novel had done that more often, I would have no reservations about recommending it. Ricciardi’s prose and pace are fine and, as first novels go, Warning Light isn’t a bad effort, although the ending (which sets up the next novel) is weak. I would chalk this up as decent first draft that wasn’t quite ready to be published.

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This would not be a book I would normally pick up, but the premise sounded intriguing. The author has a way of describing mundane events and turning them into something worth reading. I was really interested in the story, but at times felt a little lost. The characters were great. They helped me stick with the story just to find out what happened to them in the end. 

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
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This is the first book I received from NetGalley and I was honestly so pleased with it. 'Warning Light' was full of so many twist and turns, it never got boring, and it was an interesting read. The author knew how to keep the plot alluring and fresh. I learned a great deal of things from this book about other countries and their laws, I love a book that can not only entertain me but teach me something as well! Great read!
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My Highly Caffeinated Thought: An action packed thriller complete with chases, shoot-outs, and unbelievable getaways.

I cannot remember the last time I read a book like WARNING LIGHT since went through my Ludlum phase. This fast paced CIA spy novel kept me flipping the pages anxious to see how Zac was going to get out of his latest predicament.

The story on its own is compelling and timely. With what is going on in the world today, having a thriller take place mostly in the Middle East opened the reader up to question if this all could be real. The way everything unravels, I felt an honesty to the writing. Now, whether or not this is entirely a creation of the author’s imagination or if it is in part pulled from real life, I don’t know. Truthfully, I don’t care because it was so good.

Here is the thing about novels centering around espionage. I want them to be believable, but I also want some crazy things to be happen. The unexpected twists and turns in this book brought it to a near addiction for me. I couldn’t put down the book. Then you add into the mix a completely relatable and smart agent with a cast of very diverse side characters. Everyone I met in this book made me want to learn more. I do have to give props to Ricciardi’s writing. The flow, speed, and evolution of the narrative were exactly what I hoping for.

Honestly, I am waiting for the author’s next book. If it is anything like this one, I know I will have one sleepless night in my future.
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Zac Miller volunteered for Project Snapshot because he thought it would be easy. Relatively, anyway. The plan was to get a plane access into a restricted area so Zac could take a couple of pictures, all the while surrounded (and protected) by the rest of the plan's civilian passengers. But the plan goes awry almost instantly. 

Now Zac, a data analyst with no field training to speak of, is a suspected spy trapped in Iran. What's more, the very people who want him for questioning have made certain that his own people have doubts about him as well, making him the focus of two additional investigations in two more countries. 

Warning Light is fantastic fun! It's a spy origin story and the first in what I'm sure will be a great new series. 

So, as mentioned, Zac is a data analyst. His involvement in the mission in question has been from behind a desk only but the agent who was supposed to head out in the field is pulled at the very last minute out of fear he'll be recognized. And timing is key because the area in question has recently been hit by an earthquake that's left massive damage and, coincidentally, the perfect opportunity to take a peek into an area the CIA believes could house nuclear weapons. 

So Zac volunteers. Because he's sure it'll be in and out, no problem. 

But of course this is a thriller and in and out would mean no plot!

I'll admit there's some amount of predictability in Ricciardi's debut. It is a spy thriller so if our spy is killed right off the bat there again wouldn't be much of a story. So it's expected that Zac will find ways out of tight spots. And though he's not exactly field trained, he does have a (forgive me) certain set of skills that helps him out along the way. 

But in spite of the expectation that Zac will come out fairly unscathed, the tension throughout is spot on and the pacing is excellent. The best part, which I also saw coming, is that this is (again as mentioned) an origin story. Zac Miller's first mission in what'll surely be a long string of them (I hope). We get to learn a fair amount about him, his training, and a little of his background, but there's tons to mine for future novels.

It's appropriate that Lee Child blurbed the book - Zac may not be as experienced or even as suave as Reacher, but fans of that series are absolutely going to love David Ricciardi and Zac Miller!
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I received a free Kindle copy of Warning Light by David Ricciardi courtesy of Net Galley  and Berkley Publishing Group, the publisher. It was with the understanding that I would post a review on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and my fiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus pages.

I requested this book due to the description given on Net Galley. It sounded interesting and compelling and I am in search of new authors. It is the first book by David Ricciardi that I have read.

This is a debut novel for the author and is a even paced read. The writing style of the author makes it a fairly quick read, but it is not the type of book that you can't put down and come back to at a later time. The book involves a nonoperative CIA employee placed into an operation. Believability is stretched to the limits (and beyond) which makes it a less engaging book. The author has a ways to go to get to the level of Vince Flynn, James Rollins, Lee Child (who mystified me by giving this book a glowing recommendation) and others who write a similar type of novel.

This book did not build up expectations for the next one (if it turns into a series). I recommend that you check out a copy from your local library before deciding to purchase.
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Zac Miller, a CIA analyst, is a passenger on a plane headed to Singapore.  His plane begins to experience engine trouble and makes an emergency landing at an Iranian military base recently damaged by an earthquake. While the plane is on the ground, Zac takes photos of buildings believed to be hiding a secret nuclear facility. 

Zac finds himself separated from other passengers and is interrogated by local officials. He is tortured by the guards but manages to keep quiet about the true nature of his mission. After regaining consciousness, he finds himself in a prison and realizes that escape is his only way out. Zac knows that the odds of staying alive are slim but he has been well trained for these conditions.  Lacking money, a passport, and a support network he embarks on an incredible journey

Warning Light by David Ricciardi is a debut novel. It is a fast-paced action-packed story with exciting twists. I hope this book becomes the first installation of a longer series.
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I gave Warning Light a shot but it’s not the kind of story for me.  I don’t like books with torture or where I feel stressed out the entire time. It is an on the edge sort of read but I couldn’t finish it because of those reason.  It’s one of those “it’s me, not you” situations, and I’m sorry about that!  

I did post a spotlight on my blog for Warning Light.  I've included the link below.  Thank you for sending a copy of the book!
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"Warning Light" eBook was published in 2018 and was written by David Ricciardi ( This is Mr. Ricciardi's first publication. 

I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The story takes place in Iran and the surrounding area of the Middle East. The primary character is CIA analyst Zac Miller.

Miller has done nothing but ride a desk since joining the CIA. When an earthquake opens up a chance to take a look at a super secret Iranian facility that is thought to have nuclear weapons, Miller talks his way into the mission. 

Miller rides a British Airways passenger jet that declares an emergency and lands in Iran. From there the mission goes downhill. Miller is arrested and tortured. The Iranians plant evidence that he has murdered women. Knowing that the CIA does not even know where he is, Miller plans a desperate escape. He must make his way all alone without any assistance or preplanning back to England. Making this all the more difficult is that he has had virtually no training in the field and knows nothing of the local languages.

I really enjoyed the 6.5 hours I spent reading this 336 page thriller. I liked that this story was really more about survival than just another spy novel. I don't think much of the cover art. I give this novel a 4.5 (rounded up to a 5) out of 5.  

Further book reviews I have written can be accessed at 

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (
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What We Say
This debut thriller is a testament to the principle that a simple story told clearly and well can be most enjoyable. No wonder it sports a blurb from no-nonsense bestselling author Lee Child! In it, Zac Miller is a 28 year old technology consultant from London on a flight to Singapore. When engine trouble leads to an emergency landing in a remote area of Iran, Miller disembarks with the other passengers, but never gets back on. He is a prisoner of Iranian authorities, lying on the dirty floor of a cell and accused of being a British spy. Well is he or isn’t he? Miller certainly shows a surprising talent for overcoming his captors, leaving that cell and escaping to the nearby mountains…which only leaves thousands of miles to travel on an amazingly tense journey by land and sea fraught with near-death and frightening encounters. Author David Ricciardi lays out a detailed plot with a double helix of suspense here. Is Zak really a British agent and will he make it safely home? The first question is obviously answered, of course, but the second one is a bit complicated and the answer comes slowly as Zac struggles to return to London and safety. But safety is not exactly in the cards even if he gets there. What? Well, everything is nicely set up for the next Zac Miller suspense novel, which you can be sure will be coming along soon. – Janet Rotter
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I found this boring at parts. It was hard to keep going and it was hard to believe that he was capable of doing some of the things he did. I couldn't finish it.
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How much can one person endure? Zac Miller finds out in the hard charging novel that leaves him beaten and battered in every chapter. I wished for a little less battering and a lot stronger storyline.
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I really enjoyed this book and felt like I couldn't put it down at some points! 
The only reason I gave it 3 stars was because I thought it was a bit short and would of liked it to be longer and a bit meatier with the plot.  
Having said that.......... still loved it and would definitely read from this author again!
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This is an exciting page-turner! From the get-go, the setting & premise pull-in the readers. We meet Zac Miller, our main character, who is a complex & talented person, but who is out of his element when sent on assignment as a field agent by the CIA.  The story is fast paced and action-packed with plenty of suspense, intrigue, and even a slow building, innuendo only romance.  The story and its characters travel all over the world, and the international element really adds to the story. This would make a fantastic movie, but for now, I'm hoping this is just the first of many books to come from David Ricciardi!
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I have to say that when I looked up the author I was amazed to know that this is his first book. His writing was top notch and the story plot could have been yanked out of headlines today. I especially enjoyed that his true to life experiences came into play in several sequences in this story.

The author crafted an amazing plot that offered heart pounding detail and a high level of reader engagement. I love the fact that you never knew what was coming with each turn of the page. This author has done his research and brings a huge winner to the forefront.

While some people may think many of the actions of the hero be far-fetched and unbelievable, I found the ingenuity of the writer and the continual twists exciting and rich with minute detail that made the story not only plausible, but dare I say, probable for some.

Whether or not the story is believable to you, the author has crafted a thrilling story that leads you through a minefield of obstacles that our hero, Zac, has to overcome. From Iran to Dubai, England and France, and many points in between, the Bourne-esk like analyst learns quickly to think on his feet, all the while not knowing who to trust.

Written in short chapters filled with continual movement and plenty of tense action, you almost feel as exhausted as Zac while reading the book. This is a story that is very difficult to put down and why would you?

With plenty of secondary characters to keep the plot moving and engrossing, you find seemingly unimportant characters popping in along the way. I enjoyed the wrap up at the end and the additional twist for the coming stories.

Warning Light appears to be the first book in the adventures of Zac. I can’t wait to see what else the author brings to us in the future. An exciting first novel for what will hopefully be a long run of stories for the CIA desk jockey/operative.

David Ricciardi is a new author to watch in the black ops/espionage genre and one I will be following for certain. An excellent first book that made a memorable impression with high-wire thrills and over the top excitement that is expected and desired in these types of novels. Bravo! 5 stars from me!
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Warning light a new book by David Riccidari, is a very good book. Opens with a plane having to make an emergency landing and once on the ground one man does not get back on the plane. They get someone to look like him to finish the flight but for Zac Miller now becomes an adventure to stay alive. The author takes you though many scenarios of Zac dealing with different situations. I found the way the author wrote about these to be not over the top. The way he needed to make it through the desert and he could only last without water for 3 days. These types of things along with many others only added to the story and actually helped make it a better story for me. I found this to be fast paced and actually a very entertaining book. A very good book and worth the time to read.
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