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A PRAYER FOR THE DEVIL

An engaging mystery, and a sizzling debut.

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In Allan’s debut thriller, a priest aims to find the people responsible for his brother’s murder, whatever the cost.

An explosion at a political rally kills a popular presidential candidate, a Muslim reformist and a lawyer who had Senate aspirations. However, authorities are baffled as to which person was the intended target of the terror attack. The lawyer’s twin brother, Luke Miller, a Catholic priest raised in a Jewish household, becomes a media celebrity in the aftermath of the tragedy, and he spends much of his day dodging paparazzi. The press’s fascination is understandable; after all, Luke wears his brother’s clothes, drives his brother’s car and goes out in public with his brother’s widow. He decides to look into the bombing on his own, even though his investigation may ultimately put other people’s lives in jeopardy. Allan’s novel is a blistering tale with all the right ingredients for a mystery—for example, Luke’s prodding reveals more questions, such as why Luke’s brother had been carrying a gun. But the author’s multifaceted characters are what give the book distinction. Luke is a bracingly ambiguous character, prone to violent retorts and wracked with guilt over the fact that he and his brother had not been on the best of terms. The novel also addresses Luke’s ties to the cloth, as his need for retribution makes him question his faith. The story is full of complex relationships; for example, Luke is indisputably attracted to both his sister-in-law Deborah, and the Muslim reformist’s sister Jami. Luke encounters many dead ends and red herrings, but they always feel like steps closer to a solution rather than throwaway pieces of a puzzle. The book’s stellar ending addresses a lingering uncertainty and leaves much for readers to ponder.

An engaging mystery, and a sizzling debut.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1937110345

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Emerald Book Company

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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DEVOLUTION

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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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. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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MIND GAMES

A touching story of love and grief ends in an epic battle of good versus evil.

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Roberts’ latest may move you to tears, or joy, or dread, or all three.

Every summer, John and Cora Fox visit Cora’s mother, Lucy Lannigan, in Redbud Hollow, Kentucky, leaving their children, 12-year-old Thea and 10-year-old Rem, for a two-week taste of heaven. The children love Grammie Lucy far more than John’s snooty family, which looks down on Cora. Lucy, a healer with deep Appalachian roots, loves animals, cooks the best meals, plays musical instruments, and makes soap and candles for her thriving business. Thea—who’s inherited the psychic abilities passed down through the women of Lucy’s family—has vivid magical dreams, one of which becomes a living nightmare when a psychopath robs and murders John and Cora as Thea watches helplessly. Thea’s description of the killer and her ability to see him in real time help the skeptical police catch Ray Riggs, who goes to prison for life. Although Thea and Rem go on to have a wonderful childhood with Grammie, Thea constantly wages a mental battle with Riggs, who tries to use his own psychic abilities to get into her mind. Over the years, Thea uses her imagination to become a game designer while the more business-minded Rem helps manage her career. Thea eventually builds a house near Lucy, where a newly arrived neighbor is her teen crush, singer-songwriter Tyler Brennan. Tyler has his own issues and is protective of his young son but slowly builds a loving relationship with Thea, whose silence about her abilities leads to a devastating misunderstanding. At first Thea tries to keep Riggs locked out of her mind. As her powers grow, she torments him. Finally, she realizes that she must win this battle and destroy him if she’s ever to have peace.

A touching story of love and grief ends in an epic battle of good versus evil.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781250289698

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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