Silva churns out his fourth thrill-a-minute sure-fire bestseller in as many years (The Marching Season, 1999, etc.).
Another tale of international intrigue, this one rips Middle East strife from the headlines and introduces hero Gabriel Allon, living quietly away from the Israeli-intelligence work that got his wife and daughter killed. But the threat of Yasir Arafat’s assassination and permanent end to the peace process brings him back into action to chase across continents and put to an end the Palestinian terrorist who has a mysterious connection to Allon.
Silva, who’s covered Middle East politics as a journalist and CNN producer, promises intriguing backstory and more twists and turns than you can shake an olive branch at.
The FBI and Scotland Yard combine forces to recover a famous jewel.
Inspector Nicholas Drummond has given up his former life as a spy, and his thrill-seeking ex-wife, to join the Metropolitan Police. The murder of his colleague and former lover Elaine York, who’d gone to the Big Apple as one of the minders of the crown jewels being exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, sends Drummond to New York, despite orders to the contrary, to help the FBI track down the killer. When the Koh-i-Noor diamond is stolen from the heavily protected museum, Drummond teams up with attractive FBI special agent Michaela “Mike” Caine, who works with the renowned team of Lacey Sherlock and Dillon Savich (Bombshell, 2013, etc.), to recover it. Heading the private security team for the exhibit is Drummond’s uncle Bo, who needs all the help he can get to avert a public relations disaster of the first order. A preliminary survey of the evidence makes it look as if York may have been helping the thief. Digging deep, Drummond and Caine discover beneath a false identity a famous thief known as the Fox. The pair race through several European cities looking for answers.
Coulter and Ellison have created a new son of Bond licensed to shine in future thrillers. Genre fans will find the action nonstop.
Home is the Ranger, home from the wars, to a town full of good old boys, bad old betrayals and some fresh ones.
Quinn Colson has been gone from Jericho in deep-south Mississippi since he was a rambunctious, trouble-prone kid. Gone but not forgotten. An 18-year-old hell-raiser, he’d left behind an indelible string of colorful exploits. He’s 29 now, a mission-tested, combat-scarred veteran of all his country’s recent wars. Quinn’s a Ranger sergeant, an elite soldier, complete with a fighting man’s stare and recognizable haircut. On a week’s emergency furlough from Fort Benning, he’s headed home for a favorite uncle’s funeral, the uncle who also happened to be the much-admired, frequently reelected Tibbehah County sheriff, the uncle who has allegedly taken his own life. Hamp Beckett a suicide? Hard for Quinn to accept, and yet there’s the note, cryptic, perhaps, but convincing. In addition, there’s Acting Sheriff Wesley Ruth, with whom Quinn played high-school football, expounding on the darker aspects of a secretive, skillfully sublimated nature. On the other hand, there’s Deputy Lillie Virgil, holding a dissenting view, which she maintains the on-scene evidence supports, though no one, including Quinn at first, seems in any way persuaded. In all, he soon has much on his plate, including issues with a vicious, unprincipled longtime enemy, a savage crew of no-holds-barred meth dealers and, oh yes, a gorgeous ex-girlfriend currently married to someone else who, despite that, might be disinclined to remain history. Hardly Iraq or Afghanistan revisited, but, as agendas clash, the body count mounts, and suddenly Quinn finds himself fighting battles all over Jericho.
Another solid entertainment from Atkins (Infamous, 2010, etc.), whose estimable Ranger may bring to mind Lee Child’s hard-fisted, soft-hearted Jack Reacher, which is entirely a good thing.
After their high-risk expedition disintegrates, it’s every scientist for herself in this wonderfully creepy blend of horror and science fiction. This is the first volume of the Southern Reach trilogy from VanderMeer (Finch, 2009, etc.); subsequent volumes are scheduled for publication in June and September 2014.
The Southern Reach is the secret government agency that dispatches expeditions across the border to monitor Area X, an ominous coastal no man’s land since an unspecified event 30 years before. This latest expedition, the 12th, is all-female, consisting of a psychologist, an anthropologist, a surveyor and a biologist (the narrator). Names are taboo. Their leader, the psychologist, has hypnotic powers. They have no communication devices, but they do have firearms, which they will use; some earlier expeditions also ended bloodily. Close to base camp is "the tower," a mostly underground structure that acts as tunnel, which they descend. On its walls are grim biblical admonitions, raised letters made of fungi. The biologist incautiously inhales tiny spores which, she will discover later, fill her with brightness, a form of ESP. Tension between the women increases when the anthropologist goes missing; they will discover her dead in the tower, discharging green ash. Next, the psychologist disappears. Leaving the hostile, ex-military surveyor behind, the biologist makes her way to the other interesting structure, the lighthouse, which she climbs in dread. VanderMeer is an expert fearmonger, but his strongest suit, what makes his novel a standout, is his depiction of the biologist. Like any scientist, she has an overriding need to classify, to know. This has been her lifelong passion. Her solitary explorations created problems in her marriage; her husband, a medic, returned from the previous expedition a zombie. What killed the anthropologist? The biologist’s samples reveal human brain tissue. Some organism is trying to colonize and absorb the humans with whom it comes in contact. Experiencing “the severe temptation of the unknown,” she must re-enter the tower to confront the Crawler, her name for the graffiti writer.
Environmental unconcern, genetic engineering, and bioterrorism have created the hollowed-out, haunted future world of Atwood’s ingenious and disturbing 11th novel, bearing several resemblances to The Handmaid’s Tale (1985).
Protagonist Jimmy, a.k.a. “Snowman,” is perhaps the only living “remnant” (i.e., human unaltered by science) in a devastated lunar landscape where he lives by his remaining wits, scavenges for flotsam surviving from past civilizations, dodges man-eating mutant predators, and remembers. In an equally dark parallel narrative, Atwood traces Jimmy’s personal history, beginning with a bonfire in which diseased livestock are incinerated, observed by five-year-old Jimmy and his father, a “genographer” employed by, first, OrganInc Farms, then, the sinister Helthwyzer Corporation. One staggering invention follows another, as Jimmy mourns the departure of his mother (a former microbiologist who clearly foresaw the Armageddon her colleagues were building), goes through intensive schooling with his brilliant best friend Glenn (who renames himself Crake), and enjoys such lurid titillations as computer games that simulate catastrophe and global conflict (e.g., “Extinctathon,” “Kwiktime Osama”) and Web sites featuring popular atrocities (e.g., “hedsoff.com”). Surfing a kiddie-porn site, Jimmy encounters the poignant figure of Oryx, a Southeast Asian girl apprenticed (i.e., sold) to a con-man, then a sex-seller (in sequences as scary and revolting as anything in contemporary fiction). Oryx will inhabit Jimmy’s imagination forever, as will the perverse genius Crake, who rises from the prestigious Watson-Crick Institute to a position of literally awesome power at the RejoovenEsense Compound, where he works on a formula for immortality, creates artificial humans (the “Children of Crake”), and helps produce the virus that’s pirated and used to start a plague that effectively decimates the world’s population. And Atwood (The Blind Assassin, 2000, etc.) brings it all together in a stunning surprise climax.
A landmark work of speculative fiction, comparable to A Clockwork Orange, Brave New World, and Russian revolutionary Zamyatin’s We. Atwood has surpassed herself.
In his latest suspenser, the prolific King (Joyland, 2013, etc.) returns to the theme of the scary car—except this one has a scary driver who’s as loony but logical unto himself as old Jack Torrance from The Shining.
It’s an utterly American setup: Over here is a line of dispirited people waiting to get into a job fair, and over there is a psycho licking his chops at the easy target they present; he aims a car into the crowd and mows down a bunch of innocents, killing eight and hurting many more. The car isn’t his. The malice most certainly is, and it’s up to world-weary ex-cop Bill Hodges to pull himself up from depression and figure out the identity of the author of that heinous act. That author offers help: He sends sometimes-taunting, sometimes–sympathy-courting notes explaining his actions. (“I must say I exceeded my own wildest expectations,” he crows in one, while in another he mourns, “I grew up in a physically and sexually abusive household.”) With a cadre of investigators in tow, Hodges sets out to avert what is certain to be an even greater trauma, for the object of his cat-and-mouse quest has much larger ambitions, this time involving a fireworks show worthy of Fight Club. And that’s not his only crime: He's illegally downloaded “the whole Anarchist Cookbook from BitTorrent,” and copyright theft just may be the ultimate evil in the King moral universe. King’s familiar themes are all here: There's craziness in spades and plenty of alcohol and even a carnival, King being perhaps the most accomplished coulrophobe at work today. The storyline is vintage King, too: In the battle of good and evil, good may prevail—but never before evil has caused a whole lot of mayhem.
The scariest thing of all is to imagine King writing a happy children’s book. This isn’t it: It’s nicely dark, never predictable and altogether entertaining.
Inspector Harry Hole’s 1997 debut finally follows its seven successors into English translation.
It’s an unusual debut since the very first page finds Harry clearing passport control in Sydney, half a world away from his native Oslo, from which he’s improbably been sent to observe the Australian investigation into the probable rape and undoubted strangling of Inger Holter, who once hosted a Norwegian children’s TV show but had been working in a Sydney bar when she died. Neil McCormack, head of the Surry Hills Crime Squad, explains to Harry that although he’s been paired with Aboriginal detective Andrew Kensington as a professional courtesy, he’s not to take a leading role, not to make any inquiries on his own, and not to interfere with McCormack’s chain of command. Right. Fans of Harry’s later adventures (The Redeemer,2013, etc.) will wait with bated breath to see how long it takes him to break every rule in the book. Nor does Harry disappoint. He converts a key witness, Inger’s fellow barmaid Birgitta Enquist, into his bedmate. He starts drinking again. He adds a local prostitute to his list of conquests. He gets into a series of increasingly violent brawls. As it becomes more obvious that the cops are dealing with a serial rapist who has no reservations about killing, Harry brushes elbows (and more) with Inger’s new boyfriend, Evans White, a drug dealer in New South Wales; with Teddy Mongabi, the baddest pimp in Sydney; and with transvestite clown Otto Rechtnagel, whose status as the most likely suspect is canceled for the best possible reason.
Harry is already every bit as volcanic as in his later cases. The big difference is Australia, which Nesbø, seeing it through the eyes of both a tourist and a cultural pathologist, makes you wonder how much different it is from Norway after all.