An intriguing, original tale for readers looking for something a bit out of the ordinary.

WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME IF I BECOME SOMEONE ELSE?

A psychological thriller in which a traveler receives the memories of every other person on his flight—and is unable to control who takes the lead in his mind.

When SF writer Brian Watson takes Flight 2164 from Philadelphia to Chicago, he doesn’t expect it to be eventful. But as all the passengers make their way to the baggage carousel, confusion sweeps through the crowd; suddenly, no one knows who they are or where they are. Everyone except Brian, that is, who now has the memories of all 110 passengers and members of the flight crew. However, he can’t control when these recollections will pop to the forefront of his brain—sometimes he wakes up unsure of his own name, what his interests are, or even what he was doing just a few moments before. Brian just wants to get rid of these excess memories and resume his normal, happy relationship with Brenda, to whom he’s engaged to be married. Doctors don’t know what to make of what’s happening to him, although one nurse, Marci, shows an unusual interest in him; she’s after very specific memories from Brian and even tries to overwhelm his senses with a makeout session that feels oddly familiar to him. Soon, Brian recalls talking to Marci about being able to transmit memories from one person to another—but whose memory is he experiencing? Debut author Austin delivers a psychological thriller novel with just enough science fiction mixed in to interest fans of either genre. The story can feel jarring and confusing at times, as Brian fades in and out of other people’s recollections and lives and the text occasionally falls into a stream-of-consciousness style. The tale is told from Brian’s point of view but also from the perspective of whomever’s in the lead in his head at a given time. However, the author makes sure that his protagonist floats in and out of memories seamlessly, giving the overall narrative a steady flow that makes for an easy read.

An intriguing, original tale for readers looking for something a bit out of the ordinary.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-949398-49-6

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Rhetoric Askew, LLC

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2021

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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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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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Well-done crime fiction. Baldacci nails the noir.

DREAM TOWN

An old-fashioned gumshoe yarn about Hollywood dreams and dead bodies.

Private investigator Aloysius Archer celebrates New Year’s Eve 1952 in LA with his gorgeous lady friend and aspiring actress Liberty Callahan. Screenwriter Eleanor Lamb shows up and offers to hire him because “someone might be trying to kill me.” “I’m fifty a day plus expenses,” he replies, but money’s no obstacle. Later, he sneaks into Lamb’s house and stumbles upon a body, then gets knocked out by an unseen assailant. Archer takes plenty of physical abuse in the story, but at least he doesn’t get a bullet between the eyes like the guy he trips over. A 30-year-old World War II combat veteran, Archer is a righteous and brave hero. Luck and grit keep him alive in both Vegas and the City of Angels, which is rife with gangsters and crooked cops. Not rich at all, his one luxury is the blood-red 1939 Delahaye he likes to drive with the top down. He’d bought it with his gambling winnings in Reno, and only a bullet hole in the windscreen post mars its perfection. Liberty loves Archer, but will she put up with the daily danger of losing him? Why doesn’t he get a safe job, maybe playing one of LA’s finest on the hit TV show Dragnet? Instead, he’s a tough and principled idealist who wants to make the world a better place. Either that or he’s simply a “pavement-pounding PI on a slow dance to maybe nowhere.” And if some goon doesn’t do him in sooner, his Lucky Strikes will probably do him in later. Baldacci paints a vivid picture of the not-so-distant era when everybody smoked, Joe McCarthy hunted commies, and Marilyn Monroe stirred men’s loins. The 1950s weren’t the fabled good old days, but they’re fodder for gritty crime stories of high ideals and lowlifes, of longing and disappointment, and all the trouble a PI can handle.

Well-done crime fiction. Baldacci nails the noir.

Pub Date: April 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5387-1977-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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