An intense, visceral debut equal to the best that country noir has to offer.

BEARSKIN

A fugitive from a Mexican cartel takes refuge in a forest preserve in the wilds of Virginia.

Rice Moore, the troubled protagonist of this hard-edged thriller, can best be described as remote, a characteristic he shares with his hazardous surroundings. He’s taken a job, under a false name, as the caretaker for a family-owned nature preserve in the Appalachian Mountains. It’s a slim chance for him to escape his past, one that includes a gig as a drug mule for the Sinoloa cartel, the torture, rape, and murder of his girlfriend, and a long stint in a prison in Nogales, where he trained as a sicario—a most hostile killer of men. Rice is a dangerous man, one bound to surprise the bullies, hunters, and motorcycle gangs that roam these mountains. In a very Billy Jack way, he soon runs afoul of all manner of local threats, among them the police, a suspicious neighbor, and a band of predators who have been killing the mountain’s bears, removing paws and gallbladders for black-market sale in Asia. Rice also takes offense when he learns that his predecessor, a biologist named Sara Birkeland, was viciously assaulted and raped during her tenure as caretaker. It’s a violent, compelling story that uses its milieu to incredible effect. Eventually we find Rice stalking the land in a ghillie suit, blinded by visions, waiting for the kill—a patience that comes in handy when he later finds himself in a desperate showdown, fighting for his life against the past that has come baying for his blood. Told in spare prose and portraying the authentic mechanics of hunting, combat, and psychological defense, the novel dares the reader to root for this damaged antihero but convinces us that he’s worth it.

An intense, visceral debut equal to the best that country noir has to offer.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-274279-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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