While other novelists are doing everything they can to inflate their tales of cloak and dagger, trust Le Carré (A Most...

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OUR KIND OF TRAITOR

Le Carré uses still another aspect of international relations in the new world order—the powerful, equivocal position of money launderers to the Russian mob—to put a new spin on a favorite theme: the betrayal that inevitably follows from sharply divided loyalties.

In between his hated old life as an Oxford don and his dimly imagined new life as a grade-school teacher, Peregrine Makepiece takes his girlfriend, rising barrister Gail Perkins, on holiday to Antigua. Their prowess on the tennis court is observed by an amiable Russian who presses Perry to play him. But Dima, né Dmitri Vladimirovich Krasnov, wants much more than a game. In return for providing details to Her Majesty’s Secret Service about his money laundering for the Seven Brothers, who dominate Russian organized crime, he wants asylum and protection for himself and his family. He wants his children to be placed in top English schools. And he wants Perry to hold his hand through it all. Following their exhaustive debriefing by Luke and Yvonne, a pair of jaundiced spooks, Perry and Gail are sent to Paris, where Dima has asked for a meeting that’s clearly supposed to set the stage for his flight from his comrades. Don’t try to behave like spies, Perry and Gail are advised—act innocent. That’s easily done, because the couple is much more innocent than they realize. Although they know more than they ought to about Dima’s family, especially his daughter Natasha, they know next to nothing about his business associates, and nothing at all of Luke’s fragile position in the Service, or his boss Hector Meredith’s complicated set of conflicts with financiers, lawyers, lobbyists and Members of Parliament whose agendas are quite different from Hector’s, Luke’s, Perry’s or Dima’s.

While other novelists are doing everything they can to inflate their tales of cloak and dagger, trust Le Carré (A Most Wanted Man, 2008, etc.) to make his story of international money laundering, political infighting and unwitting treachery into a chamber symphony of exquisite delicacy.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-670-02224-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2010

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

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

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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

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