While this story makes effective use of the dark side of technology, it lacks memorable human sentiments.

READ REVIEW

SANCTUARY OF LIES

A technological thriller focuses on a murky internet deal gone bad.

Jacob Costa believes his ex-wife, Simone Johns, has been dead for three days when he receives a text from her. The message is simple if troubling: Simone has been murdered, and Jacob needs to protect their son. She was a technological wizard who had been involved with elements of the “dark web”: the seedier sections of the internet, “where real sales happen and where everything is for sale.” Naturally, Simone kept her involvement in such affairs secret, and by all outward appearances, she spent her time contributing to the success of her educational software company, Safehaven. That Jacob has a son at all is news to him, particularly now that, with the death of Simone, the boy will be “sole heir to a multi-million-dollar company.” Jacob travels to Orlando, Florida, with his fiancee, the computer savvy and curvy Isabella Nunez, and their pit bull, Justice, to attempt to get things sorted out. In Orlando, Jacob meets his 8-year-old son, David, who is under the care of a friendly lawyer in a gated community called Sanctuary. David’s life is in danger, however, as it seems $85 million has gone missing from a project Simone was involved in. Will Jacob make sense of it all before it is too late? Bishop (Only a Woman Could…and She Did, 2017) skillfully shows the inherent dangers involved in the modern-day reliance on computers. Fiddling with systems that people take for granted—from landing airplanes to locking doors—can have vivid and severe consequences. But the characters involved in the narrative manage to be less distinctive than the machines they control. Where the prose should be edgy with its depictions of shady figures, it often becomes muddled. This is the case with a description of Simone and how “she wanted the big win, to be in the driver’s seat and she played in a pond where there were bigger sharks than her.” With such blunt portrayals, readers may be left with the impression that the main players are more akin to lines of code serving their functions than humans worth caring about.

While this story makes effective use of the dark side of technology, it lacks memorable human sentiments.

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 2017

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 201

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2017

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.

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?

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more