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TIDES OF FIRE

A solid Sigma Force adventure that’s sure to please thriller fans.

Life on Earth may come to an end in this fast-moving Sigma Force novel.

In 1815, Mount Tambora exploded in the South Pacific, causing massive death and destruction. Its worldwide cloud cover caused the “year without a summer” in 1816. Two centuries later, Sigma Force explores the deepest parts of the Pacific with ultrasophisticated equipment such as the five-tiered Titan station. In the depths of the Coral Sea, they encounter giant coral forests containing highly aggressive and hostile giant coral trees. Deep in the crushing depths of the Tonga Trench lies a sunken nuclear submarine the Chinese don't want anyone to know about. Meanwhile, Asia is beset by earthquakes and tsunamis, perhaps caused by disturbances in the “massive slabs” of the planetoid Theia, speculated to have crashed into Earth billions of years ago. Said slabs are buried in Earth’s upper mantle, and “they may soon destroy us.” Of course, a thriller needs human villains too; enter a rogue Chinese team that thinks they may be able to use ELF—extremely low-frequency—transmissions to manipulate pieces of Theia and cause earthquakes and tsunamis at will. Thus, China would have a weapon to make nuclear arsenals obsolete and ensure its world dominance for centuries to come. (That sounds like an iffy proposition, but who knows?) Along with a number of helpful illustrations, the author mixes his considerable scientific knowledge with ancient myths, speculation, and imagination. A Chinese sailor’s body undergoes “biomineralization,” turning him to stone. The sound of bullroarers may appease the angry gods as some pin their hopes on lost Aboriginal mythology to quell the quakes. Scientists speculate on DNA based on silicon rather than carbon. And if you’ve ever wondered what would happen if your submersible springs a leak 11,000 meters below the ocean’s surface, well—no spoilers here—it’s not good. There’s plenty of brisk action in this undersea yarn, of both the people vs. people and coral vs. people variety. And don’t worry about the world really ending, because Rollins plans a sequel.

A solid Sigma Force adventure that’s sure to please thriller fans.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2023

ISBN: 9780062893079

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2023

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THEN SHE WAS GONE

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

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. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE

A weird, wild ride.

Celebrity scandal and a haunted lake drive the narrative in this bestselling author’s latest serving of subtly ironic suspense.

Sager’s debut, Final Girls (2017), was fun and beautifully crafted. His most recent novels—Home Before Dark (2020) and Survive the Night (2021) —have been fun and a bit rickety. His new novel fits that mold. Narrator Casey Fletcher grew up watching her mother dazzle audiences, and then she became an actor herself. While she never achieves the “America’s sweetheart” status her mother enjoyed, Casey makes a career out of bit parts in movies and on TV and meatier parts onstage. Then the death of her husband sends her into an alcoholic spiral that ends with her getting fired from a Broadway play. When paparazzi document her substance abuse, her mother exiles her to the family retreat in Vermont. Casey has a dry, droll perspective that persists until circumstances overwhelm her, and if you’re getting a Carrie Fisher vibe from Casey Fletcher, that is almost certainly not an accident. Once in Vermont, she passes the time drinking bourbon and watching the former supermodel and the tech mogul who live across the lake through a pair of binoculars. Casey befriends Katherine Royce after rescuing her when she almost drowns and soon concludes that all is not well in Katherine and Tom’s marriage. Then Katherine disappears….It would be unfair to say too much about what happens next, but creepy coincidences start piling up, and eventually, Casey has to face the possibility that maybe some of the eerie legends about Lake Greene might have some truth to them. Sager certainly delivers a lot of twists, and he ventures into what is, for him, new territory. Are there some things that don’t quite add up at the end? Maybe, but asking that question does nothing but spoil a highly entertaining read.

A weird, wild ride.

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-18319-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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