Science fiction as action adventure, the sort of book primed for screen treatment if a producer can find a sufficient F/X...

BEYOND THE ICE LIMIT

Effective Engineering Solutions’ chief honcho, Eli Glinn, is out of his wheelchair, walking and ready for revenge after his agent Gideon Crew discovered a "restorative, health-giving lotus" on his last adventure (The Lost Island, 2014, etc.).

Years ago, Glinn was nearly killed (thus the wheelchair) when his ship, the Rolvaag, sank two miles below the sea in the Hesperides Deep near the South Pole ice limit. The Rolvaag was transporting a 25,000 ton meteorite—"the largest meteorite in the world"—that EES had been paid to remove from nearby Isla Desolación by billionaire Palmer Lloyd. Now Glinn has learned the sunken meteorite has begun to grow into a treelike form, nicknamed "the Baobab" because of its shape. Glinn believes it’s an extraterrestrial life form, an alien seed that will destroy the Earth. He wants Crew to destroy it with a nuclear device. Thus begins relentless mayhem, another thrill-a-minute read. Piloting a Deep Submergence Vehicle, Crew snips a piece of Baobab. Aboard ship, the segment mutates into wormlike creatures that drill through the nasal passages and into the brains of sleeping crew, who thereafter run amok at Baobab’s bidding. Series readers will see a new side of the enigmatic Glinn. Crew remains the standard angst-driven hero. There’s the requisite slovenly, boorish, yet brilliant computer genius and a less memorable supporting cast. New readers will struggle with minimal references to EES’s raison d'être and its fabled Quantitative Behavior Analysis. There’s diving lore, a précis on assembling a nuke, and a short, dense dissection of "endoplasmic reticulum" and "Golgi bodies" to conjecture a "carbon-hydrogen-silicon-oxygen form of life" that seems to have no purpose other than the biological imperative.

Science fiction as action adventure, the sort of book primed for screen treatment if a producer can find a sufficient F/X budget.

Pub Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4555-2586-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Greed, love, and extrasensory abilities combine in two middling mysteries.

LABYRINTH

Coulter’s treasured FBI agents take on two cases marked by danger and personal involvement.

Dillon Savitch and his wife, Lacey Sherlock, have special abilities that have served them well in law enforcement (Paradox, 2018, etc.). But that doesn't prevent Sherlock’s car from hitting a running man after having been struck by a speeding SUV that runs a red light. The runner, though clearly injured, continues on his way and disappears. Not so the SUV driver, a security engineer for the Bexholt Group, which has ties to government agencies. Sherlock’s own concussion causes memory loss so severe that she doesn’t recognize Savitch or remember their son, Sean. The whole incident seems more suspicious when a blood test from the splatter of the man Sherlock hit reveals that he’s Justice Cummings, an analyst for the CIA. The agency’s refusal to cooperate makes Savitch certain that Bexholt is involved in a deep-laid plot. Meanwhile, Special Agent Griffin Hammersmith is visiting friends who run a cafe in the touristy Virginia town of Gaffers Ridge. Hammersmith, who has psychic abilities, is taken aback when he hears in his mind a woman’s cry for help. Reporter Carson DeSilva, who came to the area to interview a Nobel Prize winner, also has psychic abilities, and she overhears the thoughts of Rafer Bodine, a young man who has apparently kidnapped and possibly murdered three teenage girls. Unluckily, she blurts out her thoughts, and she’s snatched and tied up in a cellar by Bodine. Bodine may be a killer, but he’s also the nephew of the sheriff and the son of the local bigwig. So the sheriff arrests Hammersmith and refuses to accept his FBI credentials. Bodine's mother has psychic powers strong enough to kill, but she meets her match in Hammersmith, DeSilva, Savitch, and Sherlock.

Greed, love, and extrasensory abilities combine in two middling mysteries.

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-9365-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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