An intriguing but less propulsive entry in an unusually robust year for linguistic thrillers.

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THE SILENT HISTORY

The world reels with shock and dismay when an entire generation of children is born without the ability to create or comprehend language.

It should be interesting to see how this strange dystopian voyage, composed by a talented triptych of writers, is interpreted by readers who don’t know its innovative origins. This is the analog version of a reportedly addictive digital application of the same name that originally published one story a day; it takes the form of an oral history of the first 30 years of a modern plague that leaves otherwise normal children without the ability to speak, read or write. Clearly borrowing heavily from Max Brooks’ World War Z, this semi-anthology doesn’t include one of the original app’s more interesting features: location-based field reports that could only be activated at certain GPS locations. That being the case, one might expect to find a tighter, more cohesive plotline; but the rambling, episodic and extremely brief natures of its dated entries make it hard to become absorbed in its narrative arc. The first half is very much social commentary, with the linguistic nonconformity of the “silents” standing in for the growing ranks of children with autism and highlighting the well-worn bigotry that emerges around those who are different (dubbed here “mutetards” by the ignorant). Many of the early stories are less compelling—the parents who wish so dearly to have the “normal” children they were expecting; teachers who struggle to reach students who can understand math or art but not their instructions; and the scientists delving into the mysterious origins of the illness. It’s not until forces start to shape the silent generation that the novel gets very interesting indeed. We learn that the children are evolving their own forms of nonlinguistic communication at the same time scientists start using neural implants to “cure” the silent, who may not be so eager to play along.

An intriguing but less propulsive entry in an unusually robust year for linguistic thrillers.

Pub Date: June 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-374-53447-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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This is fast-paced, nonstop fun. Cussler fans will gobble it up.

JOURNEY OF THE PHARAOHS

Rumors of lost Egyptian treasure spark high adventure in this 17th in the NUMA series featuring oceanographer Kurt Austin and his crew (Sea of Greed, 2018, etc.).

Over 3,000 years ago, grave robbers sail away with loot from a pharaoh’s tomb. In 1927, Jake Melbourne and his plane disappear in his attempt at a trans-Atlantic flight. In the present day, arms merchants known as the Bloodstone Group have taken to stealing antiquities. They are looking for a “treasure both vast and glorious” that hieroglyphics say was shipped down the Nile and out of Egypt, perhaps even west across the Atlantic. (Holy scurvy! That must’ve been a lot of hard rowing!) The criminals are known to MI5 as “very dangerous people" and "merchants selling death.” Perfectly willing to kill everyone in their way, they are aided by mechanical crows and Fydor and Xandra, nasty sibling assassins jointly called the Toymaker. Such are the foes faced by Austin and his team from the National Underwater and Marine Agency. Of course, Austin has no interest in profit; he will gladly leave the ancient riches wherever they are. Action arrives early and often, and the failed pre-Lindbergh flight fits in neatly. Cussler and Brown concoct a nifty plot with disparate, sometimes over-the-top twists that will make even hardcore adventure fans say “Wow!” Expect claustrophobic gunfights, aerial combat, a life-threatening flood, messages from the dead, coffins of gold—and a vintage classic car, because why not? “We’re going to steal the greatest deposit of Egyptian treasure the world has ever known,” brags the evil mastermind. But he’ll have to climb over the series hero’s dead body first, which—no plot spoiler here—ain’t gonna happen.

This is fast-paced, nonstop fun. Cussler fans will gobble it up.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-08308-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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