British history and contemporary conspiracy collide in this satisfying novel.

Dance for A Dead Princess

A debut romantic mystery that spans centuries, with a modern love story at its center.

Nicholas Carey, the 18th Duke of Burnham, has been wining and dining the loveliest stars in the Hollywood firmament since his beloved wife, Deborah, died almost 10 years ago at the Abbey, their English country estate. But Nicholas’ life isn’t all glitz and glamour: His grief, and his conviction that Deborah’s close friend, Princess Diana, was murdered, has left him with a heavy emotional burden. In addition, his 15-year-old ward, Lucy, who’s deep into drugs, alcohol and teen angst, has been sent away from her boarding school. Then Taylor Collins, one of the most highly accomplished young lawyers in her American firm, arrives to mediate the sale of the Abbey. She doesn’t fall immediately for the duke, as most women do, but maintains a chilly distance, as she’s nursing her own heartbreak and grieving the loss of a treasured friend. But when Taylor stays with Nicholas at the Abbey to look over ancient land documents, she finds, to her surprise, that she not only feels compassion for the pain Nicholas has experienced, but also a growing attraction to him. Taylor’s discovery of Nicholas’ 16th-century ancestor’s personal diary reveals a tumultuous love affair and a murder accusation. How exactly did Deborah die, and has Nicholas been telling the truth about Lucy’s parentage? Furthermore, Nicholas believes that the princess of Wales left behind an audiotape naming those who wanted her dead—and that Mari, Taylor’s late friend, had the tape among her possessions. Was Mari, thought to be a victim of a botched burglary, actually murdered? Hawkins delivers an efficient, suspenseful tale that weaves together the past and the present. The prose is lively, if not poetic, and its atmospheric descriptions of the Abbey not only bring to life the contemporary love story between Nicholas and Taylor, but also add richness to the ancient tale that Taylor uncovers. It’s a great book for a long journey, as it’s both easy to read and intellectually gratifying. Although the ending is rather abrupt and somewhat heavy on the explication, its emotional payoff is well worth it.

British history and contemporary conspiracy collide in this satisfying novel.

Pub Date: March 30, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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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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