A fun thriller set in a deadly jungle.

DARK CURE

A debut mystery tells the story of a group of scientists trapped in a remote compound in the Amazon.

Former Army Ranger Karl Shepherd has only been at the Inn—a tiny research outpost in the remote Amazon—for a couple of weeks when one of the biologists disappears. Shepherd and a few of his colleagues hunt for the scientist, who had left the Inn to gather samples of a newly discovered plant that the team believes might provide a cure for Alzheimer’s. The searchers find the biologist’s corpse with a gunshot wound to the skull. Back at the Inn, head scientist John Alderton informs the assembled researchers and staff that the station must be evacuated due to an early start of the rainy season. The only problem is the communication satellite is down, and if it can’t be fixed, it might be weeks or even months before a supply boat is sent to evacuate them. In the meantime, Alderton and the other leaders look for the murder weapon with the help of the quickly exonerated Shepherd while the other scientists and naturalists grumble and accuse one another of foul play. With a cure for Alzheimer’s on the line, the professional ambitions of everyone at the Inn come to the surface. A cure could mean riches and a Nobel Prize. As Allie Temple, the Inn’s head of operations, explains to Shepherd, “The presence of the rainforest exacerbates existing tensions. You haven’t been here long, but believe me, it can really get to you.” Yet would any of the team be willing to kill for the cure? Or is there something even darker lurking in the jungle? Moore excels at communicating the claustrophobia and suspicion of this tiny community stuck in one of the world’s deadliest landscapes. Allie tells Shepherd: “At first it’s the little things, the endless insects, the constant heat, the noises. Then the sheer presence of it, the immensity of it, can overwhelm you. Eventually, it can break you down.” While the characters are rather conventional, the premise makes for a perfect locked-room mystery, and the author plays the various tempers and vanities of her scientists against one another with ingenuity, keeping readers guessing all the way to the end.

A fun thriller set in a deadly jungle.

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-925764-78-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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