Since writing the ultimate modern espionage fiction—The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and Tinker, Tailor. Soldier, Spy—rigorous Mr. le Carre has understandably been setting himself new challenges; and sometimes he almost seems to be daring his audience to enjoy him. But storytelling genius isn't something you can hide, and readers thrived on The Honourable Schoolboy despite its wide, densely Dickensian fabric—just as they will be mesmerized by this superb new book despite its purposefully quiet, slow, downright claustrophobic austerity. Of course, part of the magic for le Carre veterans will be their devotion to British Intelligence buddha George Smiley, who's now in "dubious retirement," a retirement ended when one of Smiley's "people"—a fierce old Russian-emigre agent put out to pasture by the new, detente-minded Intelligence chiefs—is shot on Hampstead Heath after trying to reach Smiley with crucial evidence of. . . something. Smiley, dispatched by the Circus bosses to cover it all up, naturally does the opposite. He talks to the dead agent's pals, to his own old Circus colleagues like crusty, dying Connie (with the computer-memory) and that itchy old dandy Toby Esterhase. He goes to Hamburg and stumbles on a dead body. He gathers clues: letters to the dead agent from an old Russian woman in Paris who's been threatened into providing a cover identity for an unnamed Soviet female; blackmail photos of Soviet diplomats involved in something unauthorized by their government. And, when all the pieces and nuances are tested and fitted and held up to the light, they lead to. . . Karla, Smiley's nemesis, the Soviet spy-master responsible for all of Smiley's marital and professional grief in Tinker, Tailor. But what Karla is up to this time isn't tradecraft: it's personal, so personal that he has been breaking Soviet rules left and right—he's trying to get his schizophrenic daughter, now in a Swiss asylum, safely settled in the psychiatrically sophisticated West. Will Smiley take advantage of this disconcertingly human vulnerability in his arch-enemy? He must—and the last section of the book (after all that gentle coiling) is the inexorable, step-by-step Switzerland entrapment of Karla's confederates by Smiley's people, a project seen through to its glorious but joyless goal: the enforced defection of Russia's top spy. As always, the narrative is grand, the dialogue is even better,, and best of all is the warm, sadly ironic intelligence that colors even the tiniest of encounters. But one warning: the Smiley books really must be read in order, not just for the sake of their secrets, but in order to feel the full swing and pull of le Carre's triumph—perhaps the greatest variety, texture, and integrity ever bestowed upon a series character.

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 1979

ISBN: 014311977X

Page Count: -

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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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. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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