Nance’s amiable cast is partly what makes his tenth outing (Turbulence, 2000, etc.) work so well.

SKYHOOK

Thoroughly entertaining thriller about secrets, lies (bureaucratic sort), and little guys beating the odds.

“I’m a minnow challenging sharks,” says fledgling lawyer Gracie O’Brien to her best friend April Rosen. Waiting inside a federal courtroom in Washington, D.C., is a whole school of sharks—legal, power-suited, supercilious—representing the US government’s defense against a plaintiff whose chances everyone (including Gracie) rates at slim to none. It all started innocently enough when Arlie Rosen, April’s dad, took off with his wife on a pleasure cruise in his beloved Grumman, which shortly thereafter crashed into the Gulf of Alaska. Plane demolished, humans—miraculously enough—only scratched though nevertheless, post-rescue, still floundering in a sea of troubles. Actually, fate’s fickle finger began jabbing at Arlie long before the plunge. Flash back to Operation Skyhook: a brilliantly conceived program calculated to help aircraft survive terrorist activity. Nothing could be more hush-hush, so when Arlie Rosen, fog-bound, sideswiped a jet smack in the middle of a test run, it was the wrong place at the wrong time writ large. But Arlie’s not alone in being out of the loop. The FAA, too, is flying blind, and soon enough a self-righteous, mean-spirited inspector turns up with a private agenda at cross purposes to Skyhook. Arlie’s pilot’s license is lifted—lighting fires under loving April and loyal Gracie—and suddenly it’s David vs. Goliath, the phrase “due process” much in the air. To the government, the transcendent issue is keeping Operation Skyhook under wraps. To Arlie, it’s his pilot’s license and his constitutional rights that matter most. Big Government, armed to the teeth with resources, glaring down at little Arlie—an unequal contest? Well, never underestimate the power of aroused minnows.

Nance’s amiable cast is partly what makes his tenth outing (Turbulence, 2000, etc.) work so well.

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-399-14980-5

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 13

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

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

THEN SHE WAS GONE

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

Did you like this book?

more