ROBERT LUDLUM'S THE BOURNE EVOLUTION

Freeman’s first Jason Bourne thriller is a treat for fans of the late Robert Ludlum.

Novelist Freeman nails the Ludlum style in the latest Jason Bourne adventure.

Without apparent motive, a man with no known criminal history or mental illness opens fire on a Las Vegas crowd and slaughters 66 people. More than a year later, a New York congresswoman is murdered, shot in the neck. The congresswoman had been about to expose a large-scale data hacking scandal in big tech. The suspect is an “ex-government operative gone rogue” code-named Cain. That’s the hero, Jason Bourne. Fans know that as Cain, he was a professional assassin before a gunshot wound stole all memory of his past. Treadstone, his former organization, believes he’s out of control and wants him dead. Good luck with that, because “Bourne was a ghost. Impossible to kill.” So Bourne agrees to meet secretly with a journalist in Quebec City who has written about the Vegas killings and is investigating the congresswoman’s murder. Nothing goes right, of course. Later, Bourne agrees to find a connection between that killing and a mysterious organization called Medusa. What follows is plenty of well-plotted action of the bloodletting variety. The main threat to society is a software application called Prescix. People think it’s cool because it predicts what they’re going to do before they know it themselves. They don’t realize that it’s controlling what they’re going to do. That is plausible, scary stuff, but for a real scare meet the superb villain Miss Shirley. She warns people, “at all times when we are together to call me Miss Shirley.” That’s in every sentence, with violations punishable by a bullet in the throat, even if she’s just treated a guy to the best sex ever. The showdown between Bourne and Miss Shirley is one for the ages.

Freeman’s first Jason Bourne thriller is a treat for fans of the late Robert Ludlum.

Pub Date: July 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-54259-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

THE FURY

More style than substance.

Michaelides takes a literary turn in his latest novel, employing an unreliable narrator, the structure of classical drama, and a self-conscious eye to dismantling the locked-room mystery.

The novel starts off with a murder, and with seven people trapped on an isolated Greek island lashed by a "wild, unpredictable Greek wind." The narrator, soon established as Elliot Chase, then zooms out to address the reader directly, introducing the players—most importantly movie star Lana Farrar. We meet her husband, Jason Miller, her son, Leo, and her friend Kate Crosby, a theater actress. We learn about her rise to fame and her older first husband, Otto Krantz, a Hollywood producer. We learn about Kate’s possibly stalling career and Leo’s plan to apply to acting schools against his mother’s wishes. We learn about Jason’s obsession with guns. And in fragments and shards, we learn about Elliot: his painful childhood; his May–September relationship with an older female writer, now dead; his passion for the theater, where he learned “to change everything about [himself]” to fit in. Though he isn't present in every scene, he conveys each piece of the story leading up to the murder as if he were an omniscient narrator, capable of accessing every character's interior perspective. When he gets to the climax, there is, indeed, a shooting. There is, indeed, a motive. And there is, of course, a twist. The atmosphere of the novel, set mostly on this wild Greek island, echoes strongly the classical tragedies of Greece. The characters are types. The emotions are operatic. And the tragedy, of course, leads us to question the idea of fate. Michaelides seems also to be dipping into the world of Edgar Allan Poe, offering an unreliable narrator who feels more like a literary exercise. As an exploration of genre, it’s really quite fascinating. As a thriller, it’s not particularly surprising.

More style than substance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2024

ISBN: 9781250758989

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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