Monaco, fast cars, rich women, bad Bosnians—what more is there?

CROWN JEWEL

Simon Riske returns for another car-studded adventure.

Riske is a restorer of high-end automobiles—Ferraris, Bugattis, that sort of thing—who moonlights as a problem-solver to the wealthy, and this second caper (The Take, 2018) takes him to southern France and Monaco in the service of Toby Stonewood, managing partner of the Casino de Monte-Carlo. Toby has been losing money, millions of dollars, from his casino, and he wants Riske to try to uncover how he is being cheated and who is doing it. Riske is well-qualified to undertake this assignment, having spent his younger years with the Corsican mob and being familiar with the ways of gangsters. His cover will be that he is to take part in the Concours d'Élégance scheduled there and drive in a time trial. When fate drops a Ferrari Daytona in his figurative lap, Riske is off to the races. After minor complications on French highways, Riske arrives in Monte Carlo and quickly identifies the individuals involved in the casino scam. In addition, he makes the acquaintance of Vika, a particularly compelling woman, and allows himself to become involved in her problems. Vika's mother has recently died in an automobile accident—the authorities rule it suicide, but Vika knows that cannot be correct, because her mother had poor vision and rarely drove at all and never at night. Further, Vika's mother left Vika a disturbing voicemail that suggests she felt herself to be in some danger. Riske and Vika meet circumstantially, and Riske helps Vika try to sort out what really happened. After Vika is threatened, then assaulted, Riske intervenes and learns she is in fact a princess and also that her assailants are members of the same Bosnian gang that is bleeding the casino. Unraveling the connection, rescuing the princess, and driving fast cars exceedingly well keep Riske busy. Falling in love, even with a princess, seems a little déclassé for Simon Riske, whose loner identity was molded in a French prison, but Vika seems a pretty nice girl, and she's worth billions.

Monaco, fast cars, rich women, bad Bosnians—what more is there?

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-34239-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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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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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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