Two-time Edgar Award winner Hart, after three first-rate outings, is not at his best in what amounts to a soap opera for the...


In Hart’s latest (The Last Child, 2009, etc.) a vengeful ex-orphan tracks fellow former orphans, asylum not on offer.

Michael and Julian, brothers, abandoned as babies, lead lives of mounting desperation in a prototypically grim orphanage tucked away in the North Carolina high country. Iron Mountain Home for Boys has long sped past hardscrabble on its way to Dickensian, and the brothers have endured every manner of unkindness known to unprincipled orphanage management. Michael, 10, physically and temperamentally suited to vicissitude, can cope with Iron House’s horrors. Sensitive, painfully vulnerable Julian can’t. He falls victim to a particularly nasty quintet of bullies, who catch and torment him whenever his older brother is occupied elsewhere. Suddenly, events take an even darker turn, and Michael is forced to flee, leaving Julian unprotected. But not for long. Enter the elegant and very rich Abigail Vane, wife of U.S. Senator Randall Vane, who not only plucks Julian from Iron House but nurtures him lovingly all the years it takes for his career to blossom. When it does, Julian is an A-list, bestselling author. Meanwhile, Michael, too, finds a benefactor, though of a considerably different stripe. Respected almost as much as he’s feared, Otto Kaitlin is the powerful, high-profile rackets boss who recognizes in Michael a kindred spirit and takes him under his wing. Counseled by Kaitlin, Michael becomes an adroit, unregenerate killer, hell bent on a brilliant gangster future. But then Michael falls in love with a good woman, and all bets are off. Will he now seek some sort of redemption? Will the brothers finally reunite? Will Iron House be revisited so that the brutish five can get a well-deserved comeuppance? The plot twists and turns supply a full measure of answers, few of them unpredictable, most of them engulfed in gobs of gratuitous violence.

Two-time Edgar Award winner Hart, after three first-rate outings, is not at his best in what amounts to a soap opera for the macho set.

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-38034-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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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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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.


Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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