by John Katzenbach ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 4, 2002
Hokey, gimmicky, and flatly unbelievable—but even readers immune to the erratic charms of Katzenbach’s earlier thrillers...
Katzenbach’s finest hour is the tale of a widowed New York psychotherapist roused from the cocoon of his habitual rounds by an anonymous letter—a letter threatening him with a fate worse than death.
The plot unfolded by Dr. Frederick Starks’s nemesis, who calls himself Rumplestiltskin, is startlingly simple. In revenge for Ricky’s neglect of one unnamed patient of the hundreds he’s treated, Mr. Skin is going to “destroy”—maybe kill, maybe ruin, maybe damage irreparably—one of his dozens of relatives in exactly two weeks, unless Ricky either identifies his malign correspondent or kills himself in the meantime. Just to make things more fun, Rumplestiltskin throws out a few hints to his identity and offers to answer three yes-or-no questions about himself over the allotted time (the detail that most decisively marks the ensuing thrills as synthetic, however intense). Persuaded of his adversary’s bona fides by a nasty incident involving a nephew’s daughter, Ricky sets to work figuring out who he is, but he’s taunted and terrified at every turn by repeated run-ins with two employees of his nemesis, a lawyer with the magical name of Merlin and a woman calling herself Virgil, after Dante’s guide to Hell. Meanwhile, Rumplestiltskin has lost no time isolating Ricky from the rest of the world by driving one of his current patients to suicide, arranging to have charges of sexual abuse brought against him, canceling his credit cards, seizing his financial assets, stealthily invading his apartment, and finally driving him out of the city. Facing an impossible deadline in a paranoid frenzy, Ricky takes the only way out he can imagine, setting the stage for an equally breathtaking, though rather more predictable, second act.Hokey, gimmicky, and flatly unbelievable—but even readers immune to the erratic charms of Katzenbach’s earlier thrillers (Hart’s War, 2000, etc.) will find themselves powerless to stop after page ten.
Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2002
Page Count: 576
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2001
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by Max Brooks ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 16, 2020
A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
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
Page Count: 304
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine
Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020
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BOOK TO SCREEN
by Kathy Reichs ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2020
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
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020
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