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KNIFE

The darkest hour yet for a detective who pleads, “The only thing I can do is investigate murders. And drink”—and a...

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Inspector Harry Hole’s 12th case is his most grueling to date. And considering his history on and off the Oslo Police (The Thirst, 2017, etc.), that’s quite a claim.

Back on the bottle since his wife, human rights executive Rakel Fauke, threw him out, Harry wakes up one morning with no idea how he’s spent the last two days. Even before he can sober up, he’s hit by a tornado: Rakel has been murdered, and Harry’s colleagues want him to stay out of the case, first because he’s the victim’s husband, then because they can’t rule him out as her killer. The preliminary evidence points to Svein Finne, whose long career of raping women and later stabbing them to death unless he’s gotten them pregnant, hasn’t been slowed down just because he’s spent 20 years in prison and is now pushing 80. The elusive Finne, the very first killer Harry ever arrested, is driven by the need to avenge his own son’s death: “For each son I lose, I shall bring f-five more into the world.” Captured after Harry unforgivably uses his latest rape victim as bait, Finne blandly confesses to Rakel’s murder, but the unshakable alibi he produces sends the inquiry back to square one. A series of painstaking investigations identifies first one plausible suspect, then another, each one of whom might have been designed specifically to immerse Harry more deeply in his grief. And even after each of these suspects, beginning with Finne, is cleared of complicity in Rakel’s death, they continue to hover malignantly over the landscape, ready to swoop down and wreak still further havoc. Long before the final curtain, most readers will have joined Harry, shut out of the official investigation and marginalized in ever more harrowing ways, in abandoning all hope that he can either close the case or enjoy a moment of peace again.

The darkest hour yet for a detective who pleads, “The only thing I can do is investigate murders. And drink”—and a remarkable example of how to grow a franchise over the hero’s most vociferous objections.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-65539-8

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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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

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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