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SUMMER OF THE DRAGONS

A thought-provoking novel of international relations that raises provocative questions.

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An American military analyst uncovers a North Korean plot in Barr’s debut espionage thriller set in the Korean Peninsula.

When Jesse Cullen arrives back in his adopted home country of South Korea after a three-year tour as an analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C., he discovers things have changed. For one thing, anti-Americanism is on the rise; leaders of student organizations have been co-opted by the North, resulting in increasingly violent nightly protests. An anthrax attack kills 70 newly arrived U.S. soldiers attending an orientation session, and evidence points to Islamic terrorists, but Jesse believes it was launched by North Korea to give fearful South Koreans another reason to kick American forces out of the country, and he has evidence to back his theory up. No one wants to listen to what Jesse is saying, though, because the current U.S. president wants to negotiate a peace treaty between the two Koreas, with an eye toward winning a Nobel Peace Prize. Jesse faces a balancing act, trying to get someone in authority to listen and act upon his evidence while still protecting those he loves. Meanwhile, Jesse doesn’t realize that someone he knows isn’t whom they seem to be. Barr, a former U.S. Army Intelligence officer, effectively trains a spotlight on the lingering division in the Korean Peninsula. If the Korean War is the forgotten war, this book argues, then the situation in the region today is the forgotten aftermath—at least in the United States, where too many people are indifferent to international developments. Barr’s knowledge and research shine through in his detailed depictions of the prosperous South and insular North. Jesse gives voice to the author’s clear frustration with how important intel gets buried in favor of political expedience. However, the novel allows readers to see the motivations of complex, well-meaning characters on both sides of the conflict.

A thought-provoking novel of international relations that raises provocative questions.

Pub Date: July 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66784-137-3

Page Count: 228

Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2022

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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

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HOME IS WHERE THE BODIES ARE

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

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Three siblings on very different paths learn that their family home may be haunted by secrets.

Eldest daughter Beth is alone with her fading mother as she takes her final breath and says something about Beth’s long-departed brother and sister, who may not have disappeared forever. Beth is still reeling from the loss of her mother when her estranged siblings show up. Michael, the youngest, hasn’t been home since their father’s disappearance seven years ago. In the meantime, he’s outgrown his siblings, trading his share of the family troubles for a high-paying job in San Jose. Nicole, the middle child, has been overpowered by addiction and prioritized tuning out reality over any sense of responsibility, much to Beth’s disgust. Though their mother’s death marks an ending for the family, it’s also a beginning, as the three siblings realize when they find a disturbing videotape among their parents’ belongings. The video, from 1999, sheds suspicion on their father’s disappearance, linking it to a long-unsolved neighborhood mystery. Was it just a series of unfortunate circumstances that broke the family apart, or does something more sinister underlie the sadness they’ve all found in life? In chapters that rotate among the family’s first-person narratives, the siblings take turns digging up stories and secrets in their search for solace.

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9798212182843

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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