A Line in the Sand

A Novel


By Kevin Powers

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$37.00 CAD

In this “spellbinding and totally original thriller” (Philipp Meyer, author of The Son) a lonely veteran’s gruesome discovery throws him right into the face of danger as a twisted investigation unravels the secrets of his dark past.

One early morning on a Norfolk beach in Virginia, a dead body is discovered by a man taking his daily swim—Arman Bajalan, formerly an interpreter in Iraq. After narrowly surviving an assassination attempt that killed his wife and child, Arman has been given lonely sanctuary in the US as a maintenance worker at the Sea Breeze Motel. Now, convinced that the body is connected to his past, he knows he is still not safe.

Seasoned detective Catherine Wheel and her newly minted partner have little to go on beyond a bus ticket in the dead man’s pocket. It leads them to Sally Ewell, a local journalist as grief-stricken as Arman is by the Iraq War, who is investigating a corporation on the cusp of landing a multi-billion-dollar government defense contract.

As victims mount around Arman, taking the team down wrong turns and towards startling evidence, they find themselves in a race, committed to unraveling the truth and keeping Arman alive—even if it costs them absolutely everything.

  • Praise for A Line in the Sand-
  • “A stunning novel...part thriller, part police procedural...It builds to a wrenching and inevitable ending...Powers is one of our finest writers.” 
    The New York Times Book Review
  • "Masterful in its structure and pacing; a great read.”
    Kirkus (starred review)
  • “PEN/Hemingway award-winner Powers’ skill as a fiction writer, as well as his experience as an Iraq War veteran, are both on display here, especially in the thoughtfully developed relationships between veterans, which add insight and heart to this thriller’s unrelenting suspense.”
  • “Expertly told … thrilling.”
    The Los Angeles Times
  • “A deeply compelling story … brilliantly nuanced.”
    The Washington Post
  • “A riveting powerhouse of a book, A Line in the Sand pits two small town cops—and a mysterious Iraqi interpreter whose secrets have already gotten a lot of people killed—against corruption and violence at the highest levels of government. A spellbinding and totally original thriller; Kevin Powers has reinvented himself as novelist yet again.”
    Philipp Meyer, author of The Son
  • “Sure to rank among the year's best thrillers, A Line in the Sand is a tense, twisting, and thoughtful story of the intersection between grief and greed— and the human lives crushed in the middle. Kevin Powers writes with uncommon grace, delivering the rare novel that is both propulsive and contemplative, calling to mind writers as varied as Tim O'Brien and Michael Connelly.”
    Michael Koryta, author of Never Far Away
  • “Powers has done it again. A Line in the Sand has it all: a kickass mystery with classic police procedural elements, originally drawn and memorable characters, but, most of all, a story with a huge heart and an underlying message that is sure to resonate widely. Enjoy the latest from a superb storyteller.” 
    David Baldacci, author of The 6:20 Man
  • “Kevin Powers walks-the-walk and talks-the-talk in this compelling, frighteningly knowledgeable thriller. Like a pebble in a pond, the murder of a man sets the characters in a full-tilt, nonstop fight for their lives in a rippling story that could only have been written by Powers—and write it he does.” 
    Craig Johnson, author of the Longmire Series
  • “That the same man can give us The Yellow BirdsA Shout in the Ruins, and now A Line in the Sand is proof that Kevin Powers has got some serious range. This time, he’s written a thriller, with a crime so big and characters so flawed, you’ll be holding your breath the whole time….The book’s got all the stuff you’ve always loved about Powers’ writing: a deep and abiding understanding of what soldiers sacrifice, a thoughtful examination of the place he grew up, and prose so beautiful it’ll make you weep.”
    Rachel Beanland, author of Florence Adler Swims Forever
  • "A slow-burning thriller punctuated with understated violence . . . Powerful, cynical and, on occasion, unexpectedly tender in its depiction of grief, A Line in the Sand is one of the best crime novels of the year to date"
    Declan Burke, Irish Times
  • "Tense and enthralling . . . Already compared to le Carré, Powers superbly demonstrates an ability to generate a lyrical story that is both delicate and thrilling"
    Geoffrey Wansell, Daily Mail
  • "A cracking mystery . . . Let's hope Powers sticks to writing thrillers, because A Line in the Sand is a blast"
    Alison Flood, Guardian
  • "Taut and enjoyable . . . Powers shows such skill in smoothly blending polemic with intrigue and (often viscerally violent) action that you'd swear he's an old hand at the thriller genre"
    Jake Kerridge, Daily Telegraph
  • “Kevin Powers' story has the vivid writing, memorable characters, complex plot, and perfect pacing that we get in the best crime fiction, but A Line in the Sand is also something more: a timely indictment of a political system that attempts to disguise greed as benevolence. My admiration for Powers' writing increases with each new novel.”
    Ron Rash, PEN/Faulker Award Finalist and author of The Cove
  • "Combining murder and international intrigue, this audiobook grabs the listener and never lets go. Narrator Christine Lakin’s performance is masterful because of her ability to create nuanced voices and accents that add to this thriller’s memorable moments and characters. Arman Bajalan, a former Iraqi interpreter, is in hiding in Norfolk, Virginia, after an assassination attempt that killed his wife and child. Now a dead body has floated to shore at his favorite beach, and he believes it’s a message for him. He convinces Detective Catherine Wheel that he’s in danger, and the search for the killer that develops is riveting. Lakin handles the dialogue with finesse, smoothly transitioning among the characters and defining Bajalan and Wheel in ways that enhance their personas."
  • Praise for The Yellow Birds
  • The Yellow Birds is brilliantly observed and deeply affecting…a harrowing story about the friendship of two young men trying to stay alive on the battlefield in Iraq, and a philosophical parable about the loss of innocence and the uses of memory…Extraordinary.”
    Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
  • “A superb literary achievement.”
    Chris Cleave
  • “Harrowing, inexplicably beautiful, and utterly, urgently necessary.”
    Ann Patchett
  • “Powers has created a powerful work of art that captures the complexity and life altering realities of combat service…it way up on that high rare shelf alongside Ernest Hemingway and Tim O'Brien.”
    Anthony Swofford

On Sale
May 16, 2023
Page Count
368 pages

Kevin Powers

About the Author

Kevin Powers is the author of The Yellow Birds, which won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Guardian First Book Award, and was a National Book Award Finalist. He was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, and holds an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a Michener Fellow in Poetry. He served in the US Army in 2004 and 2005 in Iraq, where he was deployed as a machine gunner in Mosul and Tal Afar. Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting is his first collection of poetry.

Learn more about this author