A passionate novel that warns of a coming economic apocalypse.


A dystopian novel about the collapse of the American financial superstructure.

Schlaman (Subprime Factor, 2008) begins with a nonfiction note to his readers: a warning about the United States’ national debt that sets the tone for the novel to come. “The growth of the past thirty years has been by the accumulation of debt, across individuals, institutions, and government,” he warns. “Debt cannot expand forever. And debt must be paid back.” When the novel commences, the voices change, but Schlaman’s tone remains consistent. The story is set in a very recognizable 2016, as the governors of the Federal Reserve, meeting in secret in lower Manhattan, float desperate plans to stave off a financial catastrophe that they’ve long seen coming—and that they helped to bring about. Vice Chairman Sarah Hill, the group’s lone idealist, is outraged by her fellow financiers’ blind greed. Chris McCleod, a loutish New York Federal Reserve bank president, joins her in seeing the Fed’s dealings for what they are: “a Ponzi scheme and a gilded pretty lie”: “Simple mathematical equations make it clear that investments, spending, and consumption cannot grow at 7 or 8 percent when the economy grows at 2 percent or less,” he thinks to himself. They’re not the only ones who are angered by what the United States has become: The Russian prime minister and the Chinese president are both determined to strike back at America on the financial battlefield, while a newly elected U.S. president makes promises that may be familiar to followers of libertarian Republican Ron Paul: “Repeal the Affordable Care Act. Audit the Federal Reserve. Return this country to the gold standard. Bulldoze the bureaucracy.” Schlaman carefully sets all these pieces in place, and then ably moves his plot briskly through financial collapse, natural catastrophe, the rise of a mega-church, and the desperate survival of a few innocents when the structure of society fractures. Readers may find this sort of dystopian material fairly familiar, but the author’s unflagging storytelling enthusiasm saves it from ever feeling derivative.

A passionate novel that warns of a coming economic apocalypse.

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-1493560936

Page Count: 308

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

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

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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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Top-drawer crime fiction. The authors are tough on the hero, but the hero is tough.


Patterson and Ellis put their characters through hell in this hard-edged second installment of their Black Book series after The Black Book (2017).

A young girl is one of four people gunned down in a “very, very bad” K-Town drive-by shooting in Chicago. Police are under intense political pressure to solve it, so Detective Billy Harney is assigned to the Special Operations Section to put the brakes on the gang violence on the West Side. His new partner is Detective Carla Griffin, whom colleagues describe as “sober as an undertaker” and “as fun as a case of hemorrhoids.” And she looks like the last thing he needs, a pill popper. (But is she?) Department muckety-mucks want Harney to fail, and Griffin is supposed to spy on him. The poor guy already has a hell of a backstory: His daughter died and his wife committed suicide (or did she?) four years earlier, he’s been shot in the head, charged with murder (and exonerated), and helped put his own father in prison. (Nothing like a tormented hero!) Now the deaths still haunt him while he and Griffin begin to suspect they’re not looking at a simple turf war starring the Imperial Gangster Nation. Meanwhile, the captain in Internal Affairs is deep in the pocket of some bad guys who run an international human trafficking ring, and he loathes Harney. The protagonist is lucky to have Patti, his sister and fellow detective, as his one reliable friend who lets him know he’s being set up. The authors do masterful work creating flawed characters to root for or against, and they certainly pile up the troubles for Billy Harney. Abundant nasty twists will hold readers’ rapt attention in this dark, violent, and fast-moving thriller.

Top-drawer crime fiction. The authors are tough on the hero, but the hero is tough.

Pub Date: March 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49940-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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