A colorful topography of mostly LGBT–related outings, forays, and adventures.

A Book of Revelations

Drag performers, detectives, and community moguls meet in Burch’s (The Homeport Journals, 2015, etc.) collection, which features coming-out stories with a twist.

All the stories in this collection have the feel of cautionary tales. The first, “Private Quarters,” features a young college student named Matt Atwood, who lives in a thin-walled, three-ring circus of an apartment building. There, he befriends Sandy, a somewhat ghastly, sallow-cheeked, and overly friendly woman who’s always luring him into her apartment with gossip and cocktails. Matt expresses some disgust for the women in his life, à la Philip Roth, as he navigates the expectations of Sandy and his own buttoned-up girlfriend, Claire. This tale, with its unmistakable fascination for people’s secret lives, sets the tone for subsequent stories in the collection. In another, an elderly woman, who lives with her abusive brother, throws a seriously awkward dinner party featuring a ragtag cast of disgruntled characters; most of the stories feature somewhat-older, somewhat-closeted gay men and their faithful female friends, who vary in description from resplendent to monstrous. The most memorable and formidable story in this collection, “Last Chance,” tells of a budding affair between a closeted male detective and an elegant murder suspect in the Bahamas. Over the course of several interrogations (including some in the form of fancy dinners, served by attentive young men), these two find that they have more in common than just the case at hand. This collection tries to get at the core of what it feels like to be in the closet and addresses the doubts and reticence that come with taking the first steps out. Even stories that address other themes still include key divulgences; in “The Honoree,” for example, a corrupt school dean’s sins catch up with her after skirting the law for years, and in “Götterdämmerung,” a musician shares the performance of a lifetime with his grandfather-in-law, a renowned maestro. Overall, Burch weaves a collection of crackerjack plot twists in which unlikely heroes seize the day.

A colorful topography of mostly LGBT–related outings, forays, and adventures.  

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: HomePort Press

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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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Assembly-line legal thriller: flat characters, lame scene-setting, and short but somehow interminable action: a lifeless...

SPLIT SECOND

Two defrocked Secret Service Agents investigate the assassination of one presidential candidate and the kidnapping of another.

Baldacci (The Christmas Train, 2002, etc.) sets out with two plot strands. The first begins when something distracts Secret Service Agent Sean King and during that “split second,” presidential candidate Clyde Ritter is shot dead. King takes out the killer, but that’s not enough to save his reputation with the Secret Service. He retires and goes on to do often tedious but nonetheless always lucrative work (much like a legal thriller such as this) at a law practice. Plot two begins eight years later when another Secret Service Agent, Michelle Maxwell, lets presidential candidate John Bruno out of her sight for a few minutes at a wake for one of his close associates. He goes missing. Now Maxwell, too, gets in dutch with the SS. Though separated by time, the cases are similar and leave several questions unanswered. What distracted King at the rally? Bruno had claimed his friend’s widow called him to the funeral home. The widow (one of the few characters here to have any life) says she never called Bruno. Who set him up? Who did a chambermaid at Ritter’s hotel blackmail? And who is the man in the Buick shadowing King’s and Maxwell’s every move? King is a handsome, rich divorce, Maxwell an attractive marathon runner. Will they join forces and find each other kind of, well, appealing? But of course. The two former agents traverse the countryside, spinning endless hypotheses before the onset, at last, of a jerrybuilt conclusion that begs credibility and offers few surprises.

Assembly-line legal thriller: flat characters, lame scene-setting, and short but somehow interminable action: a lifeless concoction.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2003

ISBN: 0-446-53089-1

Page Count: 406

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2003

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