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STOPPING POWER

A first-rate cast drives this brisk, exhilarating action tale.

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A single mother leads a high-speed chase in order to save her teen daughter in this thriller.

California real estate agent Stephanie Power is making time for her daughter. While her ex-husband drags out an ugly custody dispute, Stephanie takes 16-year-old Libby on a Texas road trip in their brand-new RV. Unfortunately, trouble lurks, as Libby and the RV vanish at a gas station. The kidnapper calls Stephanie with a bizarre order—drive a BMW north with the gas pedal floored. The caller, German Ilsa Bakke, is hot off an armored-car heist. Though she and her crew separated, Ilsa has the loot and wants Stephanie to distract the cops pursuing the getaway car. She tells Stephanie: “If you stop for any reason, kid dies. If you crash, kid dies. If the cops catch you, kid dies. If you make it for one hour you will see your kid again. Clear?” The police are no help, convinced that the woman behind the BMW’s wheel is the robber. But Stephanie’s boyfriend, Dan Crockett, does what he can as he watches TV news coverage of the chase. Things get even more complicated when members of the still-at-large heist crew join the pursuit to get their hands on the stolen goods. Red’s kinetic story hits the ground running, opening with the mother and daughter on the road and accelerating quickly with Libby in peril. Copious flashbacks follow, including scenes of Stephanie’s failed marriage and the robbers plotting the heist, but these brief subplots hardly affect the narrative momentum. Red, who’s written or co-written such classic horror films as The Hitcher and Near Dark, specializes in scene-stealing baddies. Ilsa is no exception; just when she seems sympathetic, her sadistic, possibly psychotic side reveals itself. Stephanie is equally indelible, utilizing skills she’s picked up from her Hollywood stuntman father. While the story offers few surprises, readers will bask in the taut action scenes and blistering final act. There’s dark humor as well, such as two wounded guys from the heist strolling into a CVS for painkillers.

A first-rate cast drives this brisk, exhilarating action tale.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2021

ISBN: 978-3-9603460-3-6

Page Count: 297

Publisher: Editions Moustache

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2022

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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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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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THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE

A weird, wild ride.

Celebrity scandal and a haunted lake drive the narrative in this bestselling author’s latest serving of subtly ironic suspense.

Sager’s debut, Final Girls (2017), was fun and beautifully crafted. His most recent novels—Home Before Dark (2020) and Survive the Night (2021) —have been fun and a bit rickety. His new novel fits that mold. Narrator Casey Fletcher grew up watching her mother dazzle audiences, and then she became an actor herself. While she never achieves the “America’s sweetheart” status her mother enjoyed, Casey makes a career out of bit parts in movies and on TV and meatier parts onstage. Then the death of her husband sends her into an alcoholic spiral that ends with her getting fired from a Broadway play. When paparazzi document her substance abuse, her mother exiles her to the family retreat in Vermont. Casey has a dry, droll perspective that persists until circumstances overwhelm her, and if you’re getting a Carrie Fisher vibe from Casey Fletcher, that is almost certainly not an accident. Once in Vermont, she passes the time drinking bourbon and watching the former supermodel and the tech mogul who live across the lake through a pair of binoculars. Casey befriends Katherine Royce after rescuing her when she almost drowns and soon concludes that all is not well in Katherine and Tom’s marriage. Then Katherine disappears….It would be unfair to say too much about what happens next, but creepy coincidences start piling up, and eventually, Casey has to face the possibility that maybe some of the eerie legends about Lake Greene might have some truth to them. Sager certainly delivers a lot of twists, and he ventures into what is, for him, new territory. Are there some things that don’t quite add up at the end? Maybe, but asking that question does nothing but spoil a highly entertaining read.

A weird, wild ride.

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-18319-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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