Clumsy, mechanical, inane: a kind of YA for adults, sophomoric and repugnant at once.



Reid, we’re told, is actually a “longtime New York publishing executive” who “spent a career” in the business. Whatever. His story about an opportunistic writer is a mediocrity and rather repellent.

Steven King—pen name Konigsberg, his family’s original surname—is having trouble getting his books published, even though he did go to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and does have his own cousin Stuart for a shark-like agent. Making ends meet by bartending in Maine, however, 30ish Steven gets lucky when he’s befriended by the older and affable Ben Chambers, a wise and kindly gent who’s been everywhere, done everything—and written 20 novels, all unpublished (“I only wrote for myself,” says he) and all, presumably, about likable heroes (“If a reader doesn’t like the central character of a book, you got problems,” he tells eager novice Steven). As luck would have it—though of course it’s very sad, he was so kind and so nice—Ben soon dies (manfully and quietly, of course) of heart trouble and leaves everything he had to his new friend and wannabe writer Steven. How long does it take him, agented by the cartoonishly crass Stuart, to get rich and famous by publishing the first of Ben’s 20 novels—under the name Konigsberg? Well, let’s just say that Steven is rocketed right up there among the high-rolling gods of bestsellerdom, and, hey, he’s still got 19 more hits to go! Even when a few worms who knew the real Ben Chambers crawl out of the woodwork to blackmail Steven, things work out. One of the worms gets shot dead, Steven is implicated—but a cop who loves Steven’s books and knows he’s innocent buries the evidence, becoming afterward a writing student under the master. When his wife discovers what he’s been doing all along, Steven turns over a major new leaf: he doesn’t publish any more of the books, sets up a good-deeds foundation instead.

Clumsy, mechanical, inane: a kind of YA for adults, sophomoric and repugnant at once.

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2003

ISBN: 0-385-50621-X

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2003

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This is fast-paced, nonstop fun. Cussler fans will gobble it up.


Rumors of lost Egyptian treasure spark high adventure in this 17th in the NUMA series featuring oceanographer Kurt Austin and his crew (Sea of Greed, 2018, etc.).

Over 3,000 years ago, grave robbers sail away with loot from a pharaoh’s tomb. In 1927, Jake Melbourne and his plane disappear in his attempt at a trans-Atlantic flight. In the present day, arms merchants known as the Bloodstone Group have taken to stealing antiquities. They are looking for a “treasure both vast and glorious” that hieroglyphics say was shipped down the Nile and out of Egypt, perhaps even west across the Atlantic. (Holy scurvy! That must’ve been a lot of hard rowing!) The criminals are known to MI5 as “very dangerous people" and "merchants selling death.” Perfectly willing to kill everyone in their way, they are aided by mechanical crows and Fydor and Xandra, nasty sibling assassins jointly called the Toymaker. Such are the foes faced by Austin and his team from the National Underwater and Marine Agency. Of course, Austin has no interest in profit; he will gladly leave the ancient riches wherever they are. Action arrives early and often, and the failed pre-Lindbergh flight fits in neatly. Cussler and Brown concoct a nifty plot with disparate, sometimes over-the-top twists that will make even hardcore adventure fans say “Wow!” Expect claustrophobic gunfights, aerial combat, a life-threatening flood, messages from the dead, coffins of gold—and a vintage classic car, because why not? “We’re going to steal the greatest deposit of Egyptian treasure the world has ever known,” brags the evil mastermind. But he’ll have to climb over the series hero’s dead body first, which—no plot spoiler here—ain’t gonna happen.

This is fast-paced, nonstop fun. Cussler fans will gobble it up.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-08308-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.


Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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