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THE WATCHMAKER'S HAND

An also-ran among Deaver’s Greatest Hits that would do any lesser suspense-monger proud.

Step right up to see quadriplegic criminalist Lincoln Rhyme match wits with Charles Vespasian Hale, the Watchmaker, who terrorizes New York while he prepares to attack his nemesis head-on.

Whoever sabotaged Garry Helprin’s crane, disturbing its delicate balance until it crashed 22 stories onto East 89th Street, has sent a demand that the city immediately stop building skyscrapers to accommodate the elite and earmark billions for affordable housing. The manifesto, signed The Kommunalka Project, threatens to sabotage a new high-profile building project every day until the city comes around, which of course it’s not going to do. Instead, Det. Lon Sellitto of the NYPD’s Major Crimes Unit entreats Rhyme, his old partner, to help identify the perpetrators before they can do any more damage. Meanwhile, Hale, identified from the beginning as the prime mover behind the plot, kills a broker who saw something incriminating that nobody else can identify and an accomplice he’d been using as an inside man who could get him close enough to Rhyme to kill him. Working with both advanced technologies and hydrofluoric acid, an ancient poison time has never improved, Hale keeps a step ahead of his pursuers, constantly planting new false leads, while Rhyme, together with Det. Amelia Sachs—his wife and forensic partner—and diverse members of the NYPD, the FBI, and the ATF work feverishly to uncover the real motive behind the hollow pretense that the terrorists are out for social justice. As usual, Deaver pulls so many rabbits from his hat that you come to await each new one impatiently, and his final surprise, though not entirely predictable, isn’t all that surprising either.

An also-ran among Deaver’s Greatest Hits that would do any lesser suspense-monger proud.

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2023

ISBN: 9780593422113

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023

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DEVOLUTION

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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  • 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

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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YOU'D LOOK BETTER AS A GHOST

Squeamish readers will find this isn’t their cup of tea.

Dexter meets Killing Eve in Wallace’s dark comic thriller debut.

While accepting condolences following her father’s funeral, 30-something narrator Claire receives an email saying that one of her paintings is a finalist for a prize. But her joy is short-circuited the next morning when she learns in a second apologetic note that the initial email had been sent to the wrong Claire. The sender, Lucas Kane, is “terribly, terribly sorry” for his mistake. Claire, torn between her anger and suicidal thoughts, has doubts about his sincerity and stalks him to a London pub, where his fate is sealed: “I stare at Lucas Kane in real life, and within moments I know. He doesn’t look sorry.” She dispatches and buries Lucas in her back garden, but this crime does not go unnoticed. Proud of her meticulous standards as a serial killer, Claire wonders if her grief for her father is making her reckless as she seeks to identify the blackmailer among the members of her weekly bereavement support group. The female serial killer as antihero is a growing subgenre (see Oyinkan Braithwaite’s My Sister, the Serial Killer, 2018), and Wallace’s sociopathic protagonist is a mordantly amusing addition; the tool she uses to interact with ordinary people while hiding her homicidal nature is especially sardonic: “Whenever I’m unsure of how I’m expected to respond, I use a cliché. Even if I’m not sure what it means, even if I use it incorrectly, no one ever seems to mind.” The well-written storyline tackles some tough subjects—dementia, elder abuse, and parental cruelty—but the convoluted plot starts to drag at the halfway point. Given the lack of empathy in Claire’s narration, most of the characters come across as not very likable, and the reader tires of her sneering contempt.

Squeamish readers will find this isn’t their cup of tea.

Pub Date: April 16, 2024

ISBN: 9780143136170

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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