by James Rollins ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 24, 2020
Improbable and sometimes silly, but Rollins spins an entertaining thriller out of a long string of what-ifs.
Inferno with rocket launchers and astrolabes: Rollins (Crucible, 2019, etc.) takes his readers to hell.
You’re making a mistake if you approach a Rollins novel without suspending every ounce of disbelief that you hold. Otherwise, who would swallow a hook baited with the premise that, by way of the ancient Homeric epics, modern jihadists are on the verge of leveraging the supernatural powers of the underworld, following the footsteps of a shadowy cabal, which, as Pope Leo X tells Leonardo da Vinci—yes, that Leonardo da Vinci—once upon a time “found the entrance to Hell”? It’s up to the good guys of Sigma Force, the secret and highly lethal special-ops division of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, to save the world from such malign possibilities. As always, Cmdr. Gray Pierce and company perform superhuman feats in the service of truth, justice, and the American way, with some sympathetic and highly capable civilian in tow. In this case, it’s a scholar named Elena Cargill, who, apart from holding “dual PhDs in paleoanthropology and archaeology,” is also the daughter of the chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, making her an attractive target indeed. As we meet her, Elena is working through an archaeological puzzle: How did the Arabian super-dhow that she’s discovered under hundreds of feet of Greenlandic ice get there? It might just have something to do with a clockwork mechanism that steers interested parties toward the flaming depths of Tartarus and its resident demons, titans, metal mastiffs, and their ilk. You’d think it no place to visit, but it’d be handy to have such tools in one’s kit if one were bent on world conquest. So it is that Elena and the DARPAnauts go up against a nefarious band of terrorists, one a James Bond–worthy giant and the other, this being equal-opportunity evil, a smart and ever so ill-tempered woman who “savor[s] the kill to come” and wreaks an awful lot of damage, as supervillains will. Mayhem ensues.Improbable and sometimes silly, but Rollins spins an entertaining thriller out of a long string of what-ifs.
Pub Date: March 24, 2020
Page Count: 464
Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020
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by Max Brooks ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 16, 2020
A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
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
Page Count: 304
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine
Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020
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BOOK TO SCREEN
by Kathy Reichs ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2020
Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.
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
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020
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