THE JOB

An up-and-coming ad exec tossed out on his ear finds a new job that’s a bargain with the Devil, in a glossy, fast-moving, by-the-numbers thriller from Douglas (The Big Picture, 1997). “Results mean everything,” says Ned Allen. Results have boosted him up the ladder to regional sales manager for CompuWorld’s ad pages, and results have won him a nice SoHo apartment, a well-stocked wardrobe, a tennis club membership, and his knockout wife Lizzie, for whom results also mean everything. So it doesn’t take a CompuWorld subscriber to see that when Ned’s team stops producing—especially now that the magazine’s publisher has been sold to a no-nonsense German media conglomerate—the results will be measured in sweat, Valium, slugs of red wine, and alienation of affection. Kennedy knows we know all this, but his hero’s engagingly motormouth narration, coupled with the author’s knack for magnifying his audience’s pandemic low-level anxieties into full-blown paranoia, makes the first half of this cautionary tale—in which a guy with everything going for him loses it all, one excruciating step at a time—intoxicatingly readable, as Ned struggles with the unsavory moral compromises he’ll have to make to keep his job, finally steels himself to make them, then gets tossed out anyway. But all Ned’s cruelly well-drawn jitters, and every detail of his yuppie crucifixion, are only a prelude to his getting sucked into a new job redolent of sulphur and brimstone—and here, with the pulpy criminal plot loosed from every semblance of reality, Ned’s ordeal (cold-calling, bootlicking, money-laundering, serious criminal conspiracy) becomes, if not more predictable, less compellingly so, since you know what he’s going through, not because his fears are just like yours, but because you’ve already read this story so many times. Even so, Kennedy dishes up this familiar fare with enough pizzazz to keep you reading long after you’ve worked out every single twist two steps ahead of the hapless hero. ($500,000 ad/promo [with The Big Picture]; author tour)

Pub Date: July 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-7868-6370-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 13

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more