Winslow’s most ambitious yet, though its irony and pathos work better in individual episodes than across the whole broad...

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THE POWER OF THE DOG

From the Power of the Dog series , Vol. 1

A sprawling, old-fashioned saga focuses 25 years of Mexico’s violent drug history through the interlocking loyalties, obsessions and vendettas of a DEA agent, a drug lord, a courtesan and a killer-for-hire.

Winslow (California Fire and Life, 1999, etc.) starts with Art Keller, a DEA adviser who wants so badly to take down Don Pedro Aviles, the Patron of Sinaloa, that he makes what turns out to be a bargain with three devils: rising drug power Miguel Angel Barrera and his nephews Adan and Raul. Sean Callan, meanwhile, grows up overnight in Hell’s Kitchen when his sudden resolve to save his friend O-Bop from mob intimidation turns them both into teenaged killers on the run. And California girl Nora Hayden, who’s always enjoyed her power over the older men hitting on her, decides to turn pro under the tutelage of a San Diego madam. President Nixon, showing that like Art Keller he’s consistently two steps behind the Barerra family, declares war on drugs, and the policy of throwing money at interdiction ushers in an era of related real-life disasters. Crack cocaine makes its debut. American forces back freedom fighters in Central America. An earthquake rocks Mexico City. The Catholic Church resumes normal relations with the Mexican government. Heroin makes a big comeback. Along the way, Nora misses true love with Callan and becomes Archbishop Juan Parada’s best friend and Adan’s mistress; mounting casualties in the War on Drugs cause Art to break with the Barreras and swear revenge against Adan; and countless deals between warring drug factions and governments are torpedoed by double-crosses. Few members of the large cast will survive the final curtain, and you’ll need a scorecard to keep track of the quick and the dead.

Winslow’s most ambitious yet, though its irony and pathos work better in individual episodes than across the whole broad historical canvas.

Pub Date: May 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-375-40538-0

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2005

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

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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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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