In a field overrun with snapping jaws, this bites through bone.

BLACK WATER TRANSIT

Densely stylish, superdramatic waterfront suspense from Stroud (Deadly Force, 1996).

These smartly oiled pages reek of crime’s auto-body shop. Though hit with three or four main storylines, the reader surrenders to Stroud’s steel trap of detail. Each character has a richly sketched background or hard charcoal outline. Even the walk-ons have a flat, pebble-eyed exactness. And if the gritty dialogue sometimes seems a tad intense, it’s leavened by classic hard-boiled humor. (“She crossed the marble floor, heading for the main desk. Jimmy Rock watched her go, admiring the way she handled gravity.”) The tale turns on an assets-forfeiture scam set in play by a publicity-rocket assistant district attorney. Jack Vermillion owns Black Water Transit, a $200M shipping business. He’s just beaten the Teamsters by fashioning his own insurance and pension plan for his crews, negotiated through a private investment bank. An ingeniously devised character, Earl V. Pike—retired Army colonel, former sniper, and outstandingly brilliant rascal—comes to Jack with an offer of $250,000 if Jack will ship to Mexico a sealed container holding a 200-year-old collection of American firearms, a Pike family heirloom. It’s worth millions. But shipping guns to Mexico is illegal. Jack agrees, then goes to racket-busting A.D.A. Valeriana Greco to set up a sting on Pike. Why? Because Jack wants Greco to help his son Danny, in Lompoc Prison, get a berth less dangerous than the one he’s in. As it happens, the NYPD is after Pike for an entirely different matter, a double murder, and when the heirlooms arrive in Brooklyn, the NYPD and the ATF make simultaneous raids, unknowingly thinking each other the enemy, while sniper Pike himself starts taking out both teams. And little does Jack know, he’s the patsy and stands to lose Black Water Transit.

In a field overrun with snapping jaws, this bites through bone.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-33578-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 41

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

more