An engrossing murder mystery with strong female characters.

1414º

In this thriller, an investigative journalist gets unwittingly caught up in a conspiracy when someone seems to be killing misogynistic Silicon Valley men.

Lou McCarthy prides herself on reporting the truth, even if it means exposing a man with power and connections. Her latest article for the Bay Area Herald centers on the CTO of Raum, a private tech company based in San Francisco. He’s a sexual predator who, according to interviews with several women, has assaulted university students for years. Lou anticipates the standard backlash, but that’s not quite what she gets, especially after the CTO takes his life in a disturbingly public fashion. Things only get worse when another businessman whom Lou exposed two years ago for sexual harassment violently kills himself as well. As some blame the journalist for the men’s deaths, Lou finds herself the target of a militant group of woman-hating trolls that’s gone after her before. Luckily, she has an ally, albeit an unexpected one. Helen Tyler, a member of Raum’s crisis-management team, wants an answer to the mysterious suicides. She and Lou run with the theory that someone set out to ruin these men and possibly drive them to kill themselves. The pair’s investigation turns up evidence that an unknown tormentor indeed singled out the two high-profile assailants. As readers know, “Fate,” so named in a dead man’s journal, has eyes on Lou and Helen for an elaborate plan already underway. What Fate wants isn’t immediately clear, but there’s a good chance that more rich, privileged men will pay—with their wallets or their lives or both.

Carr’s feminist tale highlights complex women. Lou, for example, is a likable, self-assured protagonist, while Helen, who proclaims herself a “hired gun,” has a murky history that makes her hard to trust. Nevertheless, Lou’s mother and her mom’s best friend, Carol Brook, steal every scene they’re in. The two women, even in Atlanta, face off against the “troll army”—not a problem for shotgun-toting Carol. The story can be heavy-handed at times, teeming with deplorable, easy-to-hate male characters, not the least of whom are the trolls, whose online creed is the impudent #MensLivesMatter. Still, Carr deftly explores a number of topical issues, from women overlooked or mistreated in the workplace to men who use their affluence to silence rape survivors. All of this plays against the backdrop of a solid mystery; Lou and Helen’s investigation stirs up myriad unknowns, like Fate’s identity, a burner phone number, and what one man yelled during his iPhone-recorded suicide. The author’s cynical prose aligns with the women’s attitudes, having spent their lives surrounded by loathsome men: “The only reason” Lou “kept banging her head against her computer screen for so long, trying to get someone—anyone—to care about her stories was that she hadn’t been able to come up with a better way to take down these assholes.” Carr skillfully manages a chaotic final act that involves a rescue, a frightening band of investors, and a character who’s perhaps not as appalling as he initially seemed.

An engrossing murder mystery with strong female characters.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2021

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 275

Publisher: Snafublishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 25, 2021

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Dirk Cussler carries on what his father started in a series that never gets old.

CLIVE CUSSLER'S THE DEVIL'S SEA

In the 26th of the lively Dirk Pitt Adventures, the family finds trouble on the high seas and in the high mountains.

Trouble comes looking for Dirk Pitt and his children, Dirk and Summer, in the strangest and most entertaining ways. (Mom is in Congress and misses all the fun.) Fans know that the elder Pitt is Director of NUMA, the National Underwater and Marine Agency, and that he’s not one to “sail a desk.” So they’re in the seas near the Philippines on a research project when they come across a sunken ship and the remnants of a Chinese rocket. The Chinese are upset that their secret Mach-25 rocket has failed once again. Then the area begins to get hit with unexplained tsunamis while Dirk Senior and his colleague Al Giordino explore the depths in Stingray, their submersible. The plot splits off when Dad asks son and daughter to fly to Taiwan to return a large stone antiquity they find in an aircraft that had disappeared in 1963. A Taiwanese museum official recognized it as the Nechung Idol from Tibet, so the siblings head to northern India. Dad rescues a woman from drowning and gets embroiled in a nasty conflict involving her father, a hijacked ship, and guys with guns and nefarious intentions. Meanwhile, young Dirk and Summer wind up in the Himalayas as they try to take the precious stone to the Dalai Lama. There, they try not to get themselves killed by bullets or hypothermia as they stay a step ahead of more villains who want the idol. The Pitts are all great characters—clever, gutsy, and lucky. When he and Giordino find themselves in a heck of a pickle in an area called The Devil’s Sea, Dad Pitt declares a great American truism: “Nothing’s impossible with a little duct tape.” And everything sticks together in the end—the tsunamis, the rocket, the idol. As with all the Dirk Pitt yarns, the action is fast and over-the-top, and the violence is only what’s needed to advance the story.

Dirk Cussler carries on what his father started in a series that never gets old.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-41964-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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