A thought-provoking novel with a clergyman who evolves into an intriguing hero.

CROOKED LINES

A philosophical bishop gets dragged into a dangerous world in this thriller.

Meyer, the author of A Call to China (2017), cleverly models his story on the famous 16th-century Chinese narrative Journey to the West, in which a monk, accompanied by three colorful companions, takes a lengthy pilgrimage to India to recover Buddhist sutras. In this novel, set in the near future, that monk becomes Brendan Donovan, the kindly but naïve Catholic bishop of Charlotte, North Carolina.He wakes up one day, after two months in a coma, as the only survivor of a terrorist car bombing. As he recovers his memory, he realizes all is not as it seems—as indicated by the presence of secretive government agent Clyde Reese. Brendan had taken part in the UNESCO-sponsored Project 28, whose final, unpublished report condemned the actions of authoritarian governments and warned about climate change. He’s also one of only two survivors from that group. So, aided by his faithful vicar, Monsignor Finney, Brendan goes on the run. He ultimately hides among a group of homeless people, eventually meeting Hog Molly and Monk,who become his traveling companions. He decides to travel to the sacred site of Iona off the coast of Scotland to unveil the Project 28 report. All the trio has to do is avoid the sophisticated global surveillance network—and find a way to get to Iona. Meyer serves up an enjoyable cautionary tale that makes an ancient story plausible for the modern era. Using Brendan’s plight, the author examines how difficult it would be to go completely off the grid and how well-meaning people can unintentionally put themselves in danger. Meyer also provides a well-rounded cast of characters: Brendan goes from doughy idealist to rawboned realist, and ex–football player Molly and monk-in-exile Monk deserve much of the credit for that transition. Even the hardcore Reese, who longs for the strict old days of the Catholic Church, starts to question the choices he’s made. Indeed, the result is as much a character study as it is a suspenseful thriller—and it’s one that will make readers think twice about those in power.

A thought-provoking novel with a clergyman who evolves into an intriguing hero.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-952961-00-7

Page Count: 290

Publisher: IngramElliott, Inc.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2020

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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

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THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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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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DEVOLUTION

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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