Cussler and Morrison will always entertain when you're tired of binge-watching TV action shows.

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TYPHOON FURY

Juan Cabrillo and the Oregon’s crew are imperiled by Filipino communist guerrillas armed with deadly aquatic drones in Cussler and long-time co-writer Morrison's (The Emperor's Revenge, 2016, etc.) latest spy-ship adventure.

Owned by the Corporation, which conducts missions for the CIA and is led by ex–CIA operative Langston Overholt IV, the Oregon looks like a derelict freighter but is powered by magnetohydrodynamic engines and carries exotic weaponry like Exocet missiles and a 120mm cannon. The ship is in the Pacific when Cabrillo's called to find a top-secret thumb drive sought by both the Ghost Dragon triad and the Chinese Ministry of State Security. That problem solved, Cabrillo and crew are told Salvador Locsin, the communist New People’s Army chief in the Philippines, has uncovered a lost Imperial Japanese WWII–era superdrug, Typhoon, developed from an exotic Philippine orchid. Typhoon is said to generate superhuman strength and provide "quick blood clotting and accelerated tissue regeneration,” sure to trigger chaos if it gets into the wrong hands. Cussler and Morrison’s superfast scene shifting via dozens of short chapters means tighten your seat belts, because the narrative never slows. Purloined art by Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh, Raphael, Gauguin, and Cezanne bankrolls the assorted communist enterprises. Locsin is also searching for the WWII sunken ship USS Pearsall, which was carrying barrels of Typhoon. Were Americans tied to the killer drug? Or was it another of the “obscene medical experiments” of the Imperial Army's nefarious Unit 731? Along the way, the Oregon is imperiled by Locsin's just-add-water drone, the "the size and shape of a Jet Ski" with a "hundred pounds of Semtex inside." A good portion of the book's first half is scene-setting, then Cabrillo and company pull out the M-4s and Glocks and start settling scores. Corregidor's abandoned WWII tunnels and isolated Philippine jungle islands provide the background, but there's zero character development and much macho, self-referential, and repartee-laden dialogue.

Cussler and Morrison will always entertain when you're tired of binge-watching TV action shows.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-57557-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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

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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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