A sci-fi mystery tackled in style by a feisty canine-human detective team.

PURSUITS UNKNOWN

From the Amy and Lars series

Dogs and humans trying to stop high-tech data thieves find themselves facing a genocidal religious cult in this debut futuristic novel.

When Amy Callahan, an employee of the rescue agency Locate and Investigate, gets the call to find a missing robot scientist, it seems like just another day on the job. With a team of dogs who are empaths like herself, Amy and her canine companion, Lars, set out on the hunt and find their quarry quickly. But when the disoriented man turns out to be the victim not only of kidnapping, but also of intentional nanobot contamination, LAI investigators and their trusted animal sidekicks are drawn into an increasingly dangerous inquiry. In a society where cars and planes operate themselves and computer keyboards and revving engines are relics of the past, humans and dogs are beginning to forge telepathic communication through the “Canine Language Project.” Amy and the brave, intelligent kelpie/shepherd mix Lars work side by side with other human and dog partners, such as Gimli, a burger-loving Corgi who specializes in placing surveillance bugs in delicate places. On the trail of the data thieves who infected two robotics experts with deadly nanobots, Amy and Lars go on an undercover mission to investigate a megalomaniacal religious leader who seeks domination on Earth and beyond. Clary’s vision of the future is grounded in the emerging field of nanorobotics and the fanciful concept of dog-human communication. This sci-fi series opener is believable and intriguing; readers may wonder, for example, if Amy’s helpful “olfactory reflectometer” is a real or visionary investigative tool. The author also does a satisfying job of creating a convincing portrait of canine consciousness, with exchanges that expand the animal-human relationship while preserving an essential dogness in the pooches’ personalities. Issues like the ethics and legalities of using dog evidence inject a note of realism into a story that might otherwise seem far-fetched. The plot, which combines technology with religious zealotry, is pleasurably creepy, although the division of the book into 69 short chapters, with such prosaic titles as “Amy Talks with John” and “Tomas and Adam Talk,” seems choppy and baffling.

A sci-fi mystery tackled in style by a feisty canine-human detective team.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-943006-86-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Spark Press

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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

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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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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