A riveting tale with globe-circling, cloak-and-cyber skulduggery and strong Bible code underpinnings.

SWARM

WHEN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE DECODES END TIME PROPHECIES...

A computer security expert learns from an amazing secret ally that biblical end times prophecies are coming true as Chinese, Russian, and American sins edge the world toward war.

Debut author Morris spins a global conspiracy cyberthriller with threads drawn from both well-worn sources (the book of Revelation) and breaking news out of Washington, D.C. In 1995, hacker prodigy Cary Nolan, having meddled with the sinister secret-society affairs of New World Order elite Andre Strauss, is targeted for death. Strauss mistakenly kills not only Nolan’s lover, Bianca Troon, but also his best friend and computer partner, Derek Taylor, while Taylor and Bianca are in post-coital bliss together. Shattered, Nolan switches identities with Taylor and, 26 years later, perpetuates the ruse as a maverick tech-security contractor to the National Security Agency. Know that this is an alt-2021 in which a controversial, reckless, Russia-manipulated, power-mad president—Donald Trump is never mentioned but there’s no doubt who the “stable genius” is—has been reelected. He lusts for a third term amid a post-pandemic recession and international chaos. As events unfurl against a devastating Chinese computer-virus attack (and Strauss’ machinations), Taylor/Nolan is investigated by beautiful Navy Lt. Jennifer Scott for his ties to rogue hackers. He goes on the run with the attractive enemy. Among the secrets he keeps from Jenn: His partner in the hacker underground is not human but a top-secret, escaped, sentient software program called SLVIA. SLVIA lately has been bombarding Taylor/Nolan with Scripture, reasoning that the Bible end times verses compute as accurate and are coming to pass as allegories of geopolitical upheaval and corruption. Verily, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than to count all the Bible prophecy/apocalypse novels out there. But Morris’ specimen stands out for not being conservative-megachurch recruiting material (instead blasting the alt-right Trump GOP and QAnon believers something fierce) and for coordinating a grandly indulgent, globe-trotting narrative in the Dan Brown/Iris Johansen style. The novel brims with wild characters, exotic settings, a skillful embroidering of CNN headlines, and mind-blowing concepts, into which the religious stuff fits snugly. Readers may heed the spiritual messages (if any) or just go along for the ride. It does seem a little unfair to poor Trump, though. Without his insane reign, this story wouldn’t feel half as terrifyingly plausible.

A riveting tale with globe-circling, cloak-and-cyber skulduggery and strong Bible code underpinnings.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73572-860-5

Page Count: 434

Publisher: Bowker Identifier Services

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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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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