Zestful heroics. Should rise to the top like one of Cussler’s real-life lost ships.

WHITE DEATH

Fourth in the new, co-authored, Kurt Austin series (Fire Ice, 2002, etc.), which has been received with restrained jubilance.

Once more Cussler/Kemprecos open with a historical anchor for their tale. West of the British Isles in 1515, a sprightly Basque caravel battles three Spanish war galleys and sinks two of them before the third takes off. In Germany in 1935, the huge hydrogen-filled zeppelin Nietzsche sets forth on a secret flight to reach the North Pole—though the world will hear if success is had. Entering the Arctic, however, the German captain spies a ship stranded on the ice, and he descends (fatally?) to lend aid. Then, in the present, by the Faroe Islands halfway between Denmark and Iceland, whale-huggers on the big, blindingly psychedelic Sea Sentinel make an SOS eco-intervention to save a pod of fifty whales about to be slaughtered by Faroe Islanders. But a chopper overhead somehow takes control of the ship and rams it into the Leif Eriksson, a Danish cruiser, sinking the cruiser with several men still aboard in an airtight space. Twelve hundred miles away, off the Berents Sea by the northern coast of Russia, Kurt Austin tests a new submersible as part of his massive search-and-survey NUMA ship, the William Beebe. The new submersible has the ability to attach to the hull of a sunken ship (or a submarine with its hatch locked shut) with a big sucker mouth that allows a laser to cut a hole and salvagers to enter the lost ship. How can Kurt, his colleague Joe Zavala, and their new submersible answer the rescue call 1200 miles away before the trapped Danes are dead? Well, by Russian transport planes. Once the rescue is effected, a bit of Danish romance blooms before Kurt finds himself facing the megaloid multinationals whose chopper sank the Leif Eriksson, not to mention a madman’s museum—and the horn of Roland!

Zestful heroics. Should rise to the top like one of Cussler’s real-life lost ships.

Pub Date: July 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-399-15041-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2003

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A high-fatality, low-octane procedural that has its points but lacks the wow factor. Bring back Lucas Davenport.

DARK OF THE MOON

Virgil Flowers, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator introduced as a sidekick to Lucas Davenport in Invisible Prey (2007), gets a death-enriched case of his own.

In a little town like Bluestem, everybody knows everybody’s business, and what everybody knows these days is that everybody’s getting killed. The flagship victim is Bill Judd, 82, the wealthy lawyer/banker/trader who made enemies right and left with a Jerusalem artichoke pyramid scheme 20 years ago. He’s an obvious target for the methodical arsonist who burned down his house with him inside. But the other victims are much more inoffensive: ancient physician Russell Gleason and his wife, retired Stark County sheriff Roman Schmidt and his wife. The current sheriff, Jimmy Stryker, doesn’t mind working with a BCA type like Virgil. He doesn’t even mind the sidelong gazes Virgil casts at his recently divorced sister, Joan Carson. And he brings up his share of promising ideas about the case, which involves money laundering, a meth lab, a surprise claimant to the Judd estate and a truly nasty man of the cloth. But could he be the target of his own manhunt? The advanced age of the victims makes Virgil think that the crimes could have deep roots—maybe as deep as a “man on the moon” party Bill Judd hosted back in 1969. Sadly, it seems to take another 38 years for Virgil and company, making endless rounds of Bluestem to ask really obvious questions, to close the case. The pace is so much slower than when Davenport is in charge that you may wonder if Virgil, a perfectly reasonable hero, is under sedation. It’s not until the Acknowledgments, which are deferred till the end of the story, that this last and deepest mystery is cleared up.

A high-fatality, low-octane procedural that has its points but lacks the wow factor. Bring back Lucas Davenport.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-399-15477-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2007

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King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

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THE INSTITUTE

The master of modern horror returns with a loose-knit parapsychological thriller that touches on territory previously explored in Firestarter and Carrie.

Tim Jamieson is a man emphatically not in a hurry. As King’s (The Outsider, 2018, etc.) latest opens, he’s bargaining with a flight attendant to sell his seat on an overbooked run from Tampa to New York. His pockets full, he sticks out his thumb and winds up in the backwater South Carolina town of DuPray (should we hear echoes of “pray”? Or “depraved”?). Turns out he’s a decorated cop, good at his job and at reading others (“You ought to go see Doc Roper,” he tells a local. “There are pills that will brighten your attitude”). Shift the scene to Minneapolis, where young Luke Ellis, precociously brilliant, has been kidnapped by a crack extraction team, his parents brutally murdered so that it looks as if he did it. Luke is spirited off to Maine—this is King, so it’s got to be Maine—and a secret shadow-government lab where similarly conscripted paranormally blessed kids, psychokinetic and telepathic, are made to endure the Skinnerian pain-and-reward methods of the evil Mrs. Sigsby. How to bring the stories of Tim and Luke together? King has never minded detours into the unlikely, but for this one, disbelief must be extra-willingly suspended. In the end, their forces joined, the two and their redneck allies battle the sophisticated secret agents of The Institute in a bloodbath of flying bullets and beams of mental energy (“You’re in the south now, Annie had told these gunned-up interlopers. She had an idea they were about to find out just how true that was"). It’s not King at his best, but he plays on current themes of conspiracy theory, child abuse, the occult, and Deep State malevolence while getting in digs at the current occupant of the White House, to say nothing of shadowy evil masterminds with lisps.

King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9821-1056-7

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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