Creatively powered silliness with cautionary undertones.




Aliens bring bad news for sexy earthlings in this otherworldly, tongue-in-cheek romp.

Evan Wallace Simon’s life as a single, 40-something writer and reluctant Angeleno stargazer takes a drastic turn after he is contacted by an intelligent alien life-form seeking earthly reform. Valdek, a wise, philosophical priest of the Vi-Kalderians, intends to use him as a vehicle to speak to the people of Earth about the consequences of their destructive behavior. Valdek believes the people of Earth have become pollutive, overindulgent and irresponsible with their bodies (their genitalia, specifically), which could cause planetary overcrowding and the forced migration of earthlings carrying their careless behaviors to other galaxies, like the one containing Valdek’s heretofore undiscovered planet, Vi-Kal-Der. His message is spread through a variety of involuntary messengers, like Simon, with the hope that change can be implemented before Genitalia Out of Control (GOOC) is reached. Reiterating his cautionary procreation-message through fantasy training at the mall and regressive therapy at home, our hero, together with best friend Myles and new love Cassie, sets out to spread the good word of the all-knowing Valdek to a disbelieving English professor and various media outlets. This creates worldwide hysteria and conspiracy theories, especially after a threat is delivered about abstaining from sex on Halloween night or, as punishment, suffering debilitating headaches. Will Earth join the ecologically balanced United Galactic Alliance of Planets in time for Simon and Cassie to enjoy a spaceship ride with Valdek on New Year’s Eve? Gaines incorporates plenty of exposition into his sexually charged satire, and while a good portion of the details amount to minutiae orbiting a cosmos of goofy acronyms, those are the key ingredients that make this debut effervesce. There’s nothing mind-bending or complex here, just easy entertainment for readers who like their erotic, extraterrestrial science fiction on the light and fluffy side.

Creatively powered silliness with cautionary undertones.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2011


Page Count: 411

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.


Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

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Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.


FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast finds evil afoot in his latest action-filled adventure (Verses for the Dead, 2018, etc.).

Imagine Florida beachcombers’ shock when they discover a shoe with a severed foot inside. Soon they see dozens more feet, all in identical shoes, bobbing toward the beach. Police and FBI ultimately count more than a hundred of them washing up on Sanibel and Captiva Islands' tranquil shores. Pendergast teams up with the junior Special Agent Armstrong Coldmoon to investigate this strange phenomenon. Oceanographers use a supercomputer to analyze Gulf currents and attempt to determine where the feet entered the ocean. Were they dumped off a ship or an island? Does each one represent a homicide? Analysts examine chemical residues and pollen, even the angle of each foot’s amputation, but the puzzle defies all explanation. Attention focuses on Cuba, where “something terrible was happening” in front of a coastal prison, and on China, the apparent source of the shoes. The clever plot is “a most baffling case indeed” for the brilliant Pendergast, but it’s the type of problem he thrives on. He’s hardly a stereotypical FBI agent, given for example his lemon-colored silk suit, his Panama hat, and his legendary insistence on working alone—until now. Pendergast rarely blinks—perhaps, someone surmises, he’s part reptile. But equally odd is Constance Greene, his “extraordinarily beautiful,” smart, and sarcastic young “ward” who has “eyes that had seen everything and, as a result, were surprised by nothing.” Coldmoon is more down to earth: part Lakota, part Italian, and “every inch a Fed.” Add in murderous drug dealers, an intrepid newspaper reporter, coyotes crossing the U.S.–Mexico border, and a pissed-off wannabe graphic novelist, and you have a thoroughly entertaining cast of characters. There is plenty of suspense, and the action gets bloody.

Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4725-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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