An overwhelming anti-abortion political agenda and heavy-handed metaphors mar this genuinely scary premise.

Her Choice

A debut mixed-genre novel about rape and unplanned pregnancies in which horror and suspense meet a political treatise.

At a gazebo in a park, a psychotic rapist viciously attacks teenagers Maria and Juan. He kills Juan and violently rapes the virginal Maria, ending the attack by slashing her face and impaling her with a knife, leaving her near death. Maria survives but her life is destroyed, deprived of her dreams of marriage and motherhood; a pregnancy would probably kill her. Maria wonders if it would have been better had she had died in the attack—a wish complicated by the realization that her unidentified rapist impregnated her. She procures abortifacient pills from a sympathetic Mexican pharmacist and attempts suicide before leaving town. In a new city, she befriends Kat, a young woman who has had a disturbing hookup with Tio, a colleague who works in the employee relations department of her company. Although the encounter was initially consensual, he became violent, choking her and leaving her with many bruises and a fertilized egg. Apparently, Tio constantly seduces women and demands that if they become pregnant, they have abortions. He’s a psychopath and serial rapist, though that doesn’t seem to hinder his ability to maintain a responsible managerial job while eluding all law enforcement. But, according to certain characters, terminating a pregnancy is worse than that: “In deciding to abort—to kill your baby, you have committed a sin more grievous than that of the rapist,” a priest tells Maria. Elsewhere, Thompson depicts certain procedures with an uncomfortable level of detail: “[T]hey’d use forceps to pull the baby—except for its head—out of my body. Then they’d stab a hole at the base of its skull and suck its brains out until the head collapses.” The implausible plot is unfortunate, because the author is able to generate real fear. Tio’s diabolical mind and his ability to exert control from his position in the company are terrifying. Without the anti-choice diatribes this might have been a successful thriller.

An overwhelming anti-abortion political agenda and heavy-handed metaphors mar this genuinely scary premise.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2014

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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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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...


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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