MATINICUS

A botanist retreats to a remote island to escape a complicated sex life, only to find himself tangled in a string of suspicious deaths.

When he last spent time on Matinicus, an island off the coast of Maine so isolated its inhabitants refer to the mainland as "America," Gil Hodges (named after the baseball player) developed an intense crush on Rachel Leland, an artist who lives in the old Burgess place, the island's oldest house. Five years later, under the pretense of completing a study of the island's rich plant life, he's staying at Rachel's house again, even though she's away. Of course, the botanical study is only part of the picture. Gil, a chronic libertine, is on the run from an ugly relationship and trying his best to put his old ways behind him. Unfortunately, he arrives on Matinicus during turbulent times, landing smack in the middle of an old dispute between local lobstermen and a former inhabitant of the island suspected of poaching. Without a resident police force, the citizens of Matinicus have to mete out justice on their own, so a string of seemingly random and accidental deaths starts the residents asking questions. Meanwhile, Gil must figure out how to deal with a local teen in the midst of a crisis, a sexy widow bent on making him revert to his former ways and a restless ghost who seems to be trying to tell him something. Scott's prose crackles with energy, and her sense of place is superb. The characters, even the minor ones, are well wrought, as is her detailed evocation of the book's unique setting. Sections set in modern times are interspersed with entries from the diary of an early 19th-century inhabitant of the Burgess house, and both plot lines are well executed and intertwine perfectly. Scott brings the action to a head, then ends with a brilliant twist sure to leave readers' jaws hanging.  The kind of book readers will tear through, only to find themselves hungry for more. 

 

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 330

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2012

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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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Assembly-line legal thriller: flat characters, lame scene-setting, and short but somehow interminable action: a lifeless...

SPLIT SECOND

Two defrocked Secret Service Agents investigate the assassination of one presidential candidate and the kidnapping of another.

Baldacci (The Christmas Train, 2002, etc.) sets out with two plot strands. The first begins when something distracts Secret Service Agent Sean King and during that “split second,” presidential candidate Clyde Ritter is shot dead. King takes out the killer, but that’s not enough to save his reputation with the Secret Service. He retires and goes on to do often tedious but nonetheless always lucrative work (much like a legal thriller such as this) at a law practice. Plot two begins eight years later when another Secret Service Agent, Michelle Maxwell, lets presidential candidate John Bruno out of her sight for a few minutes at a wake for one of his close associates. He goes missing. Now Maxwell, too, gets in dutch with the SS. Though separated by time, the cases are similar and leave several questions unanswered. What distracted King at the rally? Bruno had claimed his friend’s widow called him to the funeral home. The widow (one of the few characters here to have any life) says she never called Bruno. Who set him up? Who did a chambermaid at Ritter’s hotel blackmail? And who is the man in the Buick shadowing King’s and Maxwell’s every move? King is a handsome, rich divorce, Maxwell an attractive marathon runner. Will they join forces and find each other kind of, well, appealing? But of course. The two former agents traverse the countryside, spinning endless hypotheses before the onset, at last, of a jerrybuilt conclusion that begs credibility and offers few surprises.

Assembly-line legal thriller: flat characters, lame scene-setting, and short but somehow interminable action: a lifeless concoction.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2003

ISBN: 0-446-53089-1

Page Count: 406

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2003

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