Reading this book will offer a perverse comfort to those who think our screen-infested culture curtails any possibility of...

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WHAT YOU SEE

Think all those surveillance cameras in public places will keep you safe and solve every crime? An intrepid Boston journalist and her police detective boyfriend find out that they probably won't.

Veteran TV reporter Jane Ryland and homicide cop Jake Brogan have seen a lot in their respective careers. And they still see each other as often as they can, even though both work to keep their romance relatively quiet since cops and reporters aren’t allowed to fraternize. Even so, the hours they spend apart are especially hectic and unnerving in Ryan's latest mystery-thriller (Truth Be Told, 2014, etc.). To begin with, there’s a fatal broad-daylight stabbing in Curley Park near City Hall. Lots of cameras are around, but Jake and his colleagues can’t quite figure out who’s been killed and who the perp or perps might be. And one young woman working with the city’s digital camera system can’t understand why her boss cuts off her attempt to retrieve video of the incident. The peripatetically employed Jane, meanwhile, is dispatched to the scene by one of the local TV stations just to “gather facts” and is pestered by a wannabe paparazzi who claims to have some pertinent pictures of what happened. And in the middle of this chaos, Jane gets a phone call from her soon-to-be-married sister saying her fiance’s 9-year-daughter from a previous marriage, who’s supposed to be their flower girl, is missing. The clock’s ticking on both cases, which, despite their differences, have darker forces of extortion, abduction, and corruption in high places lurking beneath their surfaces. Ryan, writing her fourth Jane Ryland novel, displays her trademark flair for knotty plotting, though it sometimes seems she's taking on more details than she can easily handle–just like her appealing protagonists. As the dual narratives rumble toward their respective climaxes, you somehow feel as though you’re pushed too hard and strung along too much at the same time. Still, this novel retains enough craftiness and jaunty humor to make it worth a night or two of breakneck reading.

Reading this book will offer a perverse comfort to those who think our screen-infested culture curtails any possibility of genuine mystery. Looks can still deceive in the digital age.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7653-7495-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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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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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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