MORPHED

Holding himself responsible for his son’s death, Dr. Speak Singleton relocates to Park City, Utah, where his role as the doping control officer (DCO) in the cycling events of the 2012 Olympics presents him with an opportunity for atonement.

When Liam Singleton is caught using topical testosterone, a form of steroids, his father, Speak, an emergency room doctor, is quick to chastise him; only hours later, Speak stares at the lifeless body of his son, who crashed into a tree on the way to the emergency room. Liam’s death is the final blow to Speak and Fiona’s marriage; she walks out while Speak relocates to the solitary confines of Park City, where he’s determined to preserve the anti-doping system as the DCO in the cycling events of the 2012 Olympics. Immediately apparent are the sinister intentions of Team USA member and Tour de France winner Luke Garver and Coach Whitford, a medical genius who has devised a muscle-DNA altering substance that will not only pass through the anti-doping system but can also reduce the effects of aging. Seemingly past his prime, Garver, who has been shattering all of the cycling records set by Lance Armstrong, is a living example of Whitford’s prowess. Whitford and his right-hand man, Flint, know no bounds, as evidenced by the brutal slaying of Erik Hikem. Speak meets Troy Hale, another member of Team USA, through Hikem’s accident and immediately likens Troy to his son. Despite his insecurities and intimacy issues, Speak is a compassionate character who seeks the female touch and finds it in paramedic and fellow volunteer Julia Anderson. The dichotomy between the two medical practitioners, Speak and Whitford, is stunning—while one is ready to endure criticism and a tarnished reputation in his fight against steroids, the other is just as determined to plow through any obstacle that will prevent him from becoming rich through his creation, regardless of the cost in human lives and side effects of genetic doping. Speak and Whitford, two characters who have a scarred past and are searching for redemption—or revenge—are, on their own, enough to make this narrative a worthwhile read. The element of the 2012 Summer Olympics, educational information on steroids, fast-paced dialogue and the relationships between Troy and Speak and Speak and Julia are simply icing on the cake. A thrilling, nuanced drama that packs an informational and emotional punch.

 

Pub Date: Jan. 20, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 302

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

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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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Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

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CIRCE

A retelling of ancient Greek lore gives exhilarating voice to a witch.

“Monsters are a boon for gods. Imagine all the prayers.” So says Circe, a sly, petulant, and finally commanding voice that narrates the entirety of Miller’s dazzling second novel. The writer returns to Homer, the wellspring that led her to an Orange Prize for The Song of Achilles (2012). This time, she dips into The Odyssey for the legend of Circe, a nymph who turns Odysseus’ crew of men into pigs. The novel, with its distinctive feminist tang, starts with the sentence: “When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” Readers will relish following the puzzle of this unpromising daughter of the sun god Helios and his wife, Perse, who had negligible use for their child. It takes banishment to the island Aeaea for Circe to sense her calling as a sorceress: “I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began.” This lonely, scorned figure learns herbs and potions, surrounds herself with lions, and, in a heart-stopping chapter, outwits the monster Scylla to propel Daedalus and his boat to safety. She makes lovers of Hermes and then two mortal men. She midwifes the birth of the Minotaur on Crete and performs her own C-section. And as she grows in power, she muses that “not even Odysseus could talk his way past [her] witchcraft. He had talked his way past the witch instead.” Circe’s fascination with mortals becomes the book’s marrow and delivers its thrilling ending. All the while, the supernatural sits intriguingly alongside “the tonic of ordinary things.” A few passages coil toward melodrama, and one inelegant line after a rape seems jarringly modern, but the spell holds fast. Expect Miller’s readership to mushroom like one of Circe’s spells.

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-55634-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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