Another satisfying volume in an SF saga that shows no signs of slowing down.

THE GIRL WHO SPARKED THE SINGULARITY

A heroine juggles her personal and professional lives while trying to pinpoint the hacker stealing and leaking her information in this fifth installment of a series.

After surviving a terrorist attack in Lebanon, Electra Kittner returns to Washington, D.C., with a 6-year-old fellow survivor, Qama, whom she quickly adopts. Around the same time, her Linguistic App software has “morphed” into an artificial intelligence that calls itself Indira, the name of Electra’s mother, who died by lightning bolt while giving birth to her. Electra is enjoying her expanded family, which includes Robin—the intimate “co-friend” she lives with—and the woman’s adopted twins. The perpetually busy Electra is an actor-turned-screenwriter; frequently advises presidential hopeful Sen. Angus McTear; and works in research and development (for example, the study of transhumanism or, more specifically, cyborgs). But she’s understandably shaken by anonymous “open letters” to the public, as they feature information someone has unquestionably reworded from documents Electra has written. Certain a hacker is perusing and leaking her confidential files, Electra asks Indira to help her locate the culprit, who eventually resorts to emailed taunts. She must also handle occasional threats that are more physical and immediate. Ratza’s story sometimes feels like a string of concurrent plots, from Electra’s political conversations with Angus to her Hollywood projects. But the intermingling of her worlds results in an overall cohesive and engaging narrative. Electra, for example, is initially unsure what the hackers are after, and menaces from one of her professions may be targeting her family. As the tale spotlights Electra’s superior intellect over her physical aptitude, there are lots of discussions and only intermittent action. Regardless, Electra’s hectic schedule ensures swift narrative momentum while the cliffhanger ending, even if it’s become a series staple, is gleefully mysterious.

Another satisfying volume in an SF saga that shows no signs of slowing down. (list of main characters, book series dedication)

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2020

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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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A smart summer escape.

PORTRAIT OF AN UNKNOWN WOMAN

Silva’s latest Gabriel Allon novel is a bit of a throwback—in the best possible way.

One-time assassin and legendary spymaster Gabriel Allon has finally retired. After saying farewell to his friends and colleagues in Israel, he moves with his wife, Chiara, and their two young children to a piano nobile overlooking Venice’s Grand Canal. His plan is to return to the workshop where he learned to restore paintings as an employee—but only after he spends several weeks recovering from the bullet wound that left him dead for several minutes in The Cellist (2021). Of course, no one expects Gabriel to entirely withdraw from the field, and, sure enough, a call from his friend and occasional asset Julian Isherwood sends him racing around the globe on the trail of art forgers who are willing to kill to protect their extremely lucrative enterprise. Silva provides plenty of thrills and, as usual, offers a glimpse into the lifestyles of the outrageously wealthy. In the early books in this series, it was Gabriel’s work as an art restorer that set him apart from other action heroes, and his return to that world is the most rewarding part of this installment. It is true that, at this point in his storied career, Gabriel has become a nearly mythic figure. And Silva is counting on a lot of love—and willing suspension of disbelief—when Gabriel whips up four old master canvases that fool the world’s leading art experts as a lure for the syndicate selling fake paintings. That said, as Silva explains in an author’s note, the art market is rife with secrecy, subterfuge, and wishful thinking, in no small part because it is almost entirely unregulated. And, if anyone can crank out a Titian, a Tintoretto, a Gentileschi, and a Veronese in a matter of days, it’s Gabriel Allon. The author’s longtime fans may breathe a sigh of relief that this entry is relatively free of politics and the pandemic is nowhere in sight.

A smart summer escape.

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-283485-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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