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RELIQUARY

The doughty crew that bested Mbwun, a flesh-eating Amazonian creature that stalked its victims through Manhattan's Museum of Natural History, in Relic (1994), faces a new but all too familiar threat. When the skeletal remains of a socially prominent young woman are flushed out of an Upper West Side storm drain, sans skull, NYPD Lieutenant D'Agosta seeks assistance from anthropologist Margo Green and her sometime mentor Dr. Frock. With timely help from a mysterious FBI agent known only as Pendergast, the technocrats eventually put paid to the reptilian Museum Beast that, deprived of its dietary staple (a lily indigenous to Brazil's rainforest), had found human brains an acceptable substitute. Suspecting the past and present cases may be linked, D'Agosta becomes convinced when he learns that the decapitation rate among the underground homeless is on the rise. Pendergast reaches out to the subterranean community, discovering it's being depopulated by brutish beings who dwell in the so-called Devil's Attic, a network of railroad tunnels linking Grand Central Terminal with the suburbs. Meantime, Margo learns that a former colleague has genetically engineered an equivalent of the Mbwun lily (for its narcotic and regenerative properties), which can survive in the Northern Hemisphere. While the unfortunate young man's work went awry, another evil genius took on the project, and monster edibles are growing in the Central Park Reservoir. D'Agosta's panicky superiors decide to exterminate the predatory new mole people (who revere a mad scientist as their messiah) by flooding the Devil's Attic. Once the point of no return is passed, however, Margo determines that the toxic lilies could wash out to sea and do irreparable harm to Earth's food chain. With but hours to go until a wall of water from upstate basins sweeps through the netherworld caverns, then, Pendergast and a band of Navy SEALs must battle their way into the pitch-black abyss to keep the flow contained. Ghoulies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night. . . in rerun. (Literary Guild alternate selection; author tour)

Pub Date: May 16, 1997

ISBN: 0-312-86095-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1997

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DEVOLUTION

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

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THEN SHE WAS GONE

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

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. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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