Diverting escapist entertainment about a valuable hostage that sets up the last installment of a trilogy.

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Vindicta

From the For the Innocent series , Vol. 2

An anti-terrorist organization leaps into action when its nemesis kidnaps the president of the United States in this sequel.

Abraham Lincoln is credited with the maxim “People who like this sort of thing will find this to be the sort of thing they like.” This may sound like faint praise, but readers of the first InterOps adventure should totally get it. In this second installment, Lambert (For the Innocent, 2014) has amped up the action set pieces, the body count, and the page count (it’s more than twice as long as its predecessor). InterOps is an elite, covert anti-terrorist squad. In a cold opening akin to the prologues in James Bond films, two ex–Drug Enforcement Administration agents, now “freelance exterminators,” take violent revenge against associates of a drug cartel responsible for slaughtering the family of one of the partners. With that nasty bit of score-settling concluded, Lambert gets down to business: Alexander Shaitan is the globe’s deadliest terrorist, and his “evil shadow would again darken the world’s horizon.” While InterOps did “irreparable damage” to Shaitan’s International Organization for Terrorist Aggression, that operation just made him mad. In a daring raid on an airborne Air Force One, he kidnaps the commander in chief and slaughters everyone else on board (save the media), including, shockingly, the first lady. In exchange for the president, he demands that InterOps leader Erik Rächer be brought to him. Delta Force team leader Arturo Castillo is charged with finding Rächer, who is initially not keen on the swap. He has a change of heart when Shaitan kidnaps his daughter. Lambert is still not a deft writer: “It was the kind of moon reputed to cause an imbalance in some people. As if to prove that theory, there were more imbalanced people out on the loose than usual.” The author’s tough-guy banter, too, is rife with B-movie clichés. When one of the ex–DEA agents orders a drug criminal’s house to be set afire, his partner replies, “I do love a good cookout.” But gun fetishists should appreciate Lambert’s prodigious product placement, from a “Desert Eagle .50AE semiautomatic pistol with its six-inch barrel” to the “Belgian-made Fabrique Nationale FNC 5.56 mm rifle.” This InterOps thriller turns out to be a guilty pleasure.

Diverting escapist entertainment about a valuable hostage that sets up the last installment of a trilogy.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2016

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

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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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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