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VECTOR ZERO

Distrust and deceit throw soldiers and civilians into a tailspin in this gripping tale.

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Chaos reigns when the Army seizes a rustic little town to stop a virus from spreading in this debut thriller.

Martin Fallon has eluded the Army soldiers hounding him for an entire month. He’d been part of a top-secret project, and now he’s infected with a virus. At least, that’s what Col. Preston Aldridge tells townsfolk in Harper’s Glen, close to where a blizzard spins Fallon’s car off the road. The desperate Fallon, after recovering at the local hospital, seeks refuge at nurse Shelly Christianson’s home. Though he initially takes Shelly hostage, Fallon may not be as crazy as he seems. He claims the Army is after him because he knows about the biological agent it’s been inhumanely testing—and all he wants to do is flee. Meanwhile, Aldridge sets up his command post at the hospital as he attempts to quarantine Harper’s Glen’s citizens. Soldiers also scour the area for Fallon, but residents object to their presence, convinced the Army has “kidnapped” the medical staff of the entire town. When the townsfolk’s resistance turns aggressive, the armed soldiers use deadly force. This only further enrages the civilians, who retaliate with guns and much worse. McBee’s novel generates intensity through a bevy of dubious characters. For example, readers don’t know who’s lying—Aldridge or Fallon—and each convincingly explains how the other is more dangerous. The cast comprises numerous players often reacting to someone’s hostility, including in action-laden scenes of the Army versus the residents. As such, the characters are generally underdeveloped, though Shelly is unquestionably sympathetic. She escaped from an abusive husband, and she won’t let Fallon make her a victim again. Despite several explosively violent turns in the story, the author’s grandest descriptions portray the cold, snowy surroundings: “Away from the plowed roads, the top-heavy military trucks slipped and fishtailed, fighting for traction on the slick muddy surface. Slowly, they plodded along.”

Distrust and deceit throw soldiers and civilians into a tailspin in this gripping tale.

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63-752882-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Atmosphere Press

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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DEVOLUTION

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

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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. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE

A weird, wild ride.

Celebrity scandal and a haunted lake drive the narrative in this bestselling author’s latest serving of subtly ironic suspense.

Sager’s debut, Final Girls (2017), was fun and beautifully crafted. His most recent novels—Home Before Dark (2020) and Survive the Night (2021) —have been fun and a bit rickety. His new novel fits that mold. Narrator Casey Fletcher grew up watching her mother dazzle audiences, and then she became an actor herself. While she never achieves the “America’s sweetheart” status her mother enjoyed, Casey makes a career out of bit parts in movies and on TV and meatier parts onstage. Then the death of her husband sends her into an alcoholic spiral that ends with her getting fired from a Broadway play. When paparazzi document her substance abuse, her mother exiles her to the family retreat in Vermont. Casey has a dry, droll perspective that persists until circumstances overwhelm her, and if you’re getting a Carrie Fisher vibe from Casey Fletcher, that is almost certainly not an accident. Once in Vermont, she passes the time drinking bourbon and watching the former supermodel and the tech mogul who live across the lake through a pair of binoculars. Casey befriends Katherine Royce after rescuing her when she almost drowns and soon concludes that all is not well in Katherine and Tom’s marriage. Then Katherine disappears….It would be unfair to say too much about what happens next, but creepy coincidences start piling up, and eventually, Casey has to face the possibility that maybe some of the eerie legends about Lake Greene might have some truth to them. Sager certainly delivers a lot of twists, and he ventures into what is, for him, new territory. Are there some things that don’t quite add up at the end? Maybe, but asking that question does nothing but spoil a highly entertaining read.

A weird, wild ride.

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-18319-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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