An edgy, terrifying, and shocking tale for hardcore horror fans.

UNLEASHED

A Maryland surgeon’s experimental, potentially revolutionary treatment sparks unexpectedly violent results in this novel.

Dr. Paul Laden quickly notices something peculiar about the new hit-and-run victim in the emergency room. Though the patient is alive, his heartbeat and breathing are so faint they don’t register on the hospital’s machines. Amazingly, Laden also spots a wound seemingly healing itself. Keeping mum about what he’s witnessed, the doctor wheels John Doe to his research lab at the hospital. Once he declares John dead, he can experiment on his sedated patient as much as he pleases. Laden soon determines that John’s blood can kill viruses, and his internal organs may be capable of regeneration. Without divulging specifics, so that the fame and resultant wealth will be his alone, Laden offers to pay for organ transplants for three patients residing in various states. He chooses intellectually disabled Evelyn Stroman; Tyler Carson, who has Down syndrome; and Jason Scott, who suffers from Parkinson’s. Laden is certainly hopeful but can’t quite anticipate the changes that these patients ultimately experience. What happens to them leads to a startling level of violence both within and outside the patients’ lives. Jefferson’s horror story is harsh, frightening, and frequently graphic. While the book initially centers on Laden and his experiments, the latter half shifts to the transplant recipients, primarily Evelyn. The author’s prose throughout is crisp, unflinchingly detailing scenes of rape, mutilation, and spurting blood. The majority of the characters are unsympathetic, particularly Evelyn’s appalling, callous mother, Margaret. As such, some individuals subjected to brutality won’t earn much pity from readers. This nevertheless does not allay the novel’s disconcerting tone, which courses through the entirety of the narrative. Specifics on John and his perplexing condition don’t surface until the end, though much of the plot remains unresolved by the sequel-teasing denouement.

An edgy, terrifying, and shocking tale for hardcore horror fans.

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4834-8508-9

Page Count: 170

Publisher: Lulu Publishing Services

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2020

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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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Engaging and deftly paced, another thoughtfully entertaining summer read from Silva.

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THE ORDER

A legendary spy takes a vacation—or tries to, anyway—in Silva’s 20th Gabriel Allon novel.

Gabriel is trying to enjoy some rest and relaxation with his family in Venice when he learns that an old friend has died. As it happens, this old friend was Pope Paul VII, and it’s not long before Allon is summoned by the pontiff’s personal secretary. Archbishop Luigi Donati has reason to believe that the Holy Father did not die a natural death. For each of the past several summers, Silva has delivered a thriller that seems to be ripped from the headlines. This latest book feels, at first, like something of a throwback. Palace intrigue at the Vatican might seem quaint compared to Islamist extremism or Russia’s rise as an international influence, but Silva makes it relevant and compelling. Allon discovers that the most likely culprits in the death of the pope are connected to far-right leaders throughout Europe, and the rediscovery of a lost Gospel sheds new light on Christian anti-Semitism. The villains here are Catholic traditionalists—Silva’s imaginary Paul VII looks a lot like the real-life Francis I—and “populist” politicians who appeal to nativist, anti-globalist sympathies. As Silva looks at European contempt for a new wave of immigrants from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, he finds a model for this xenophobia in ancient hatred of the Jewish people, an antipathy that has its roots in the New Testament. He interjects a few Bible studies lessons and offers a bit of history as background; these passages add depth without impeding the forward momentum of the plot. Readers familiar with this series may notice the evolution of a motif introduced a few novels ago: In the world of Gabriel Allon, the United States has receded from relevance on the world stage.

Engaging and deftly paced, another thoughtfully entertaining summer read from Silva.

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-283484-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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