A grueling, gripping demonstration of melodrama’s darker side. As Annie tells the cops who insist that everything’s OK...

STILL MISSING

Stevens’s blistering debut follows a kidnap victim from her abduction to her escape—and the even more horrifying nightmare that follows.

One moment, Vancouver Island realtor Annie O’Sullivan is taking one last client, a quiet, well-spoken man with a nice smile, through the property where she’s holding an open house; the next moment, she’s being marched out to a van at gunpoint, unaware that it’s the last time for months that she’ll see the sky or breathe the open air. The man who’s taken her calls himself David; she calls him The Freak. And her ordeal over the next year, described in unsparing detail in a series of lacerating sessions with her psychiatrist, indicates that her name is a lot more accurate than his. Annie is fondled, beaten, raped and starved by a man whose troubled background has evidently convinced him that she wants him to treat her with exactly this combination of brutality and solicitude. Worse still, she internalizes his obsessive rules (meals and bathroom breaks on a strict schedule, ritual baths and sex, complete control of every word she speaks and her tone of voice) so completely that she remains terrified of breaking them. Months after her miraculous return to the world she wondered if she’d ever see again, she’s still cowering every night in her closet, unable to hold her own in anything like a normal conversation with her flirtatious, irresponsible mother, her best friend Christina, her restaurateur boyfriend Luke, or any of the dozens of interviewers who stalk her, “just sadists with a bigger paycheck” than The Freak. Worst of all is the dawning realization, fostered by sympathetic, no-nonsense Staff Sgt. Gary Kincade, that The Freak had at least one accomplice who helped him select his victim—perhaps an accomplice who had a particular reason to wish Annie ill.

A grueling, gripping demonstration of melodrama’s darker side. As Annie tells the cops who insist that everything’s OK because she’s safe: “I was never going to be okay, or safe.”

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-312-59567-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2010

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

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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

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Assembly-line legal thriller: flat characters, lame scene-setting, and short but somehow interminable action: a lifeless...

SPLIT SECOND

Two defrocked Secret Service Agents investigate the assassination of one presidential candidate and the kidnapping of another.

Baldacci (The Christmas Train, 2002, etc.) sets out with two plot strands. The first begins when something distracts Secret Service Agent Sean King and during that “split second,” presidential candidate Clyde Ritter is shot dead. King takes out the killer, but that’s not enough to save his reputation with the Secret Service. He retires and goes on to do often tedious but nonetheless always lucrative work (much like a legal thriller such as this) at a law practice. Plot two begins eight years later when another Secret Service Agent, Michelle Maxwell, lets presidential candidate John Bruno out of her sight for a few minutes at a wake for one of his close associates. He goes missing. Now Maxwell, too, gets in dutch with the SS. Though separated by time, the cases are similar and leave several questions unanswered. What distracted King at the rally? Bruno had claimed his friend’s widow called him to the funeral home. The widow (one of the few characters here to have any life) says she never called Bruno. Who set him up? Who did a chambermaid at Ritter’s hotel blackmail? And who is the man in the Buick shadowing King’s and Maxwell’s every move? King is a handsome, rich divorce, Maxwell an attractive marathon runner. Will they join forces and find each other kind of, well, appealing? But of course. The two former agents traverse the countryside, spinning endless hypotheses before the onset, at last, of a jerrybuilt conclusion that begs credibility and offers few surprises.

Assembly-line legal thriller: flat characters, lame scene-setting, and short but somehow interminable action: a lifeless concoction.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2003

ISBN: 0-446-53089-1

Page Count: 406

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2003

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