Though the links among felonies can be insultingly casual, and the mystery is no more mysterious than a ritual sacrifice,...

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PURPLE CANE ROAD

Another round of violence in New Iberia Parish leads sheriff’s investigator Dave Robicheaux (Sunset Limited, 1998, etc.) to reopen the darkest mystery he’s ever faced: the murder of his mother.

The door into his past opens with startling suddenness. Letty Labiche has almost run through the legal obstacles keeping her from the death house for killing abusive ex-cop executioner Vachel Carmouche eight years ago when Dave learns that Little Face Dautrieve, a coke hooker from New Iberia, has been saving newspaper clippings on the case for her pimp, Zipper Clum. Braced by Dave and his friend Clete Purcel, a New Orleans shamus, Zipper blurts out the news that Mae Guillory, the mother who left Dave’s father years before, had been drowned by a pair of cops back in 1967. The revelation acts like a starting gun for Dave—and for melancholy, hyperactive out-of-town trigger-man Johnny Remeta, whose killing of Zipper is only the first in a string of half a dozen new murders. Politely insisting that Dave’s just like him, Remeta appoints himself Dave’s guardian angel. Dave would love to see this sensitive killer dead before he ingratiates himself too deeply with Dave’s teenaged daughter Alafair. But he needs every bit of Remeta’s despised help, because his no-fists-barred attitude toward the cops will end by antagonizing every law officer in Louisiana, from New Orleans Vice cop Don Ritter and powerful City Hall insider Jim Gable, whom Zipper insisted had offered to let Little Face skate in return for regular sex for both of them, to state Attorney General Connie Deshotel, as Dave tears through the ranks looking for Mae’s murderers.

Though the links among felonies can be insultingly casual, and the mystery is no more mysterious than a ritual sacrifice, Burke’s powerfully evoked world shows why the past, as Faulkner said, not only isn’t dead; it isn’t even past.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2000

ISBN: 0-385-48844-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000

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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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