Even with a plot hole or two, a tacked-on narrative thread about a corporate treasure-hunting enterprise and a believability...

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THE TOMBS

Cussler and company (The Kingdom, 2011, etc.) send treasure hunters extraordinaire, Sam and Remi Fargo, onto the windy steppes of the ancient Hun empire searching for the tomb of the Scourge of God.

The Fargos are volunteering temporarily as excavators at a Paleo-Indian village site under shallow water off Grand Isle, La. The dive’s interrupted by a hasty call from famed German archaeologist, Albrecht Fischer. Fischer believes he’s unearthed a major find near Szeged, Hungary. The Fargos head off to Europe to help. Then, Fischer is kidnapped and taken to Szeged, only to be rescued by a Fargo-led amateur commando raid on a pharmaceutical complex owned by Arpad Bakor, a Hungarian who claims Attila as an ancestor. Bakor believes Fischer’s find may be the location of Attila’s legendary lost tomb. And so it goes, Sam and Remi, assisted by character-actor players who always appear at the right time, follow a series of Attila-supplied scavenger-hunt clues to the location of his triple-coffin burial site. The dialogue is sophisticated rom-com snappy, and there’s much mention of the right vintages and exotic gourmet dining and five-star hotels. Best of all are dozens of Wow! historical factoids about Attila and concurrent history. The settings are exotic: a vineyard south of Budapest; the confluence of the Po and Mincio rivers in Italy, the point where Attila turned away from Rome; then Châlons-en-Champagne, the furthermost western point of the Hun’s dominion; Transylvania; Kazakhstan, and finally, Rome’s Catacombs of Domitillia. There the story should end, but coming free with all the interesting Hun history is a multi-chapter shootout involving Hungarian, French and Russian bad guys, each of whom wanted a share of the tomb but will settle for revenge. 

Even with a plot hole or two, a tacked-on narrative thread about a corporate treasure-hunting enterprise and a believability buy in—the Fargo’s bottomless money bucket—Cussler fans can expect more than a few hours of page-turning action.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-15926-8

Page Count: 484

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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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

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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