A swift pace will keep readers hooked as the timely, intriguing plot unravels.

THE DELHI DECEPTION

In Sabharwal’s debut romantic thriller, a 30-something South African journalist travels to Delhi, falls for a mysterious charmer and inadvertently becomes a pawn in a secret mission to uncover a sinister underworld of human trafficking and international crime.

Seeking to surprise her estranged, war-reporter husband, Carla arrives at Andrew’s hotel room in Peshawar only to find him in a compromised position with a female co-worker. Reeling, she takes refuge in the Delhi home of her best friend, Elouise, an expatriate who’s settled in India with her wealthy husband, Harry, and their two children. As a distraction from her heartache, Carla, known for her exotic beauty, easily immerses herself in Elouise’s daily life of leisure, elite parties and full-time servants. While out on a tourist jaunt, Carla’s fate, as well as the novel, takes a dark turn when she’s kidnapped, drugged and nearly sold into sexual slavery. Just in time, George, an acquaintance with a shadowy reputation and no shortage of sex appeal, comes to the rescue. He reveals his true mission to her as part of an operation to catch those at the helm of this seedy venture. For her part, Carla agrees to spy on Harry, whom George believes to be involved somehow. Soon after Carla gives in to her desire for George, her husband appears and begs for forgiveness. She’s left in utter confusion, which is only magnified when Andrew and his aforementioned co-worker put George’s motives and true identity into question. The narrator’s breezy tone and the characters’ indulgence in frivolity contrast appealingly, if oddly, with the novel’s darker depictions, as of the place where young women are subdued with forced drug use and then preened like living dolls and sold to the highest bidder. The detailed accounts of criminal activity, apparently researched by the author, seem to belong to a story not wholly unearthed here, though admittedly, it would be difficult to fully serve these nonfictional elements without overpowering the interpersonal dynamics, which ultimately drive the narrative.

A swift pace will keep readers hooked as the timely, intriguing plot unravels.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2013

ISBN: 978-1479105595

Page Count: 370

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2013

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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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The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once...

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

In Baldacci’s 19th (True Blue, 2009, etc.), boy and girl monster-hunters meet cute.

Evan Waller, aka Fadir Kuchin, aka “the Butcher of Kiev,” aka “the Ukrainian psychopath,” is one of those deep-dyed villains a certain kind of fiction can’t do without. Serving with distinction as part of the Soviet Union’s KGB, he joyfully and indiscriminately killed thousands. Now, many years later, posing as a successful businessman, he’s vacationing in Provence where, unbeknownst to him, two separate clandestine operations are being mounted by people who do not regard him with favor. Reggie Campion—28 and gorgeous—spearheads the first, an ad hoc group of monster-hunting vigilantes. Studly, tall Shaw (no first name supplied) is point guard for a rival team, shadowy enough to leave the matter of its origin ambiguous. While their respective teams reconnoiter and jockey for position, studly boy meets gorgeous girl. Monster-hunters are famous for having trust issues, but clearly these are drawn to each other in the time-honored Hollywood fashion. Shaw saves Reggie’s life. She returns the favor. The attraction deepens and heats up to the point where team-members on both sides grow unsettled by the loss of focus, singularly inopportune since, as monsters go, Waller rises to the second coming of Caligula—ample testimony furnished by a six-page, unsparingly detailed torture scene. In the end, the stalkers strike, bullets fly, screams curdle the blood, love has its innings and a monster does what a monster’s got to do.

The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once again show the stuff it’s made of.

Pub Date: April 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-446-56408-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Avon A/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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