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

SWARM

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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Densely plotted and replete with incident if you can overlook the insufferable narrator.

WIN

Memo to fans who’ve longed for Windsor Horne Lockwood III, the moneyed, omnicompetent buddy of sports agent Myron Bolitar, to snag a starring role of his own: Beware what you wish for.

Nothing would connect privileged Win with the murder of the reclusive tenant of an exclusive Upper West Side building if the police hadn’t found a painting inside Ry Strauss’ apartment—a Vermeer belonging to Win’s family that was stolen long ago while on loan to Haverford College—along with a monogrammed suitcase belonging to Win himself. The two discoveries tie Win not only to the murder, but to the Jane Street Six, a group of student activists Strauss led even longer ago. The Six’s most notoriously subversive action, the bombing of an empty building in 1973, left several innocents accidentally dead and the law determined to track down the perps. But except for Vanessa Hogan, whom Billy Rowan tearfully visited soon after the bombing to beg her forgiveness for his role in bringing about the death of her son, no one’s seen hide nor hair of the Six ever since. The roots of the outrage go even deeper for Win, whose uncle, Aldrich Powers Lockwood, was killed and whose cousin, Patricia, to whom he’d given that suitcase, was one of 10 women kidnapped, imprisoned, and raped in an unsolved crime. These meaty complications are duly unfolded, and gobs of cash thrown at them, by the ludicrously preening, self-infatuated Win, who announces, “It’s good to be me,” and “I can be charming when I want to be.” As if.

Densely plotted and replete with incident if you can overlook the insufferable narrator.

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4821-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A poignant and lyrical novel that asks what is worth sacrificing for peace—and provides some answers.

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NORTHERN SPY

Berry delivers a taut and compassionate thriller as young mother Tessa is drawn into working as a double agent in the Irish Republican Army to protect her sister.

It's been years since the Good Friday Agreement was signed, but tensions in Northern Ireland remain at a constant simmer. Tessa moves through the simple motions of her life: taking care of her infant son, working at the BBC News Belfast bureau, spending time with her mother and sister. The physical isolation and beauty of her home village hint at the possibility of a world in which one doesn’t always have to be alert for terrorists; Tessa is old enough, however, to remember the Troubles, and she fears that the IRA will never truly surrender. Still, it comes as a shock at work one day when she sees a video of her sister participating in an IRA robbery. But even more shocking is the revelation that comes from Marian herself once she is able to reach out to Tessa: She's been a member of the IRA for seven years, drawn in by their talk about economic inequality, and has recently begun feeding information to MI5 in order to create space for peace talks. After a bomb she created for the IRA failed to blow up, though, she's under constant surveillance and can no longer meet with her British handler. And so Tessa joins her sister as a double agent: She's accepted by Marian’s crew and asked to do increasingly dangerous tasks for the IRA, which she then reports to her handler. Days of espionage are balanced by quiet moments with her son as Tessa comes to realize that putting herself in danger is justified, even necessary, if she wants him to grow up in a safer Ireland. Berry's use of short chapters, often divided into several smaller episodes, is particularly effective in reflecting Tessa's fragmented sense of loyalty and safety. This is not a book of action, though there is plenty, but instead a greater reflection on personal choice and consequence.

A poignant and lyrical novel that asks what is worth sacrificing for peace—and provides some answers.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-73-522499-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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