A perfect summer thriller for young readers.

RED, RIGHT, RETURN

In Sherwin’s debut middle-grade novel, a young boy and his sister do battle with a band of treasure hunters in the Florida Keys.

During their summer vacation in the Florida Keys, 11-year-old Chad Hatcher and his sensible older sister, Gene, venture out on their own for the first time to a reef off of Cudjoe Key. While Gene is concerned about a looming storm cloud, Chad is busy snapping photos of a nearby boat. Onboard, suspicious-looking looters appear to be hauling up pieces of treasure from the water. Are these scruffy men stealing gold medallions and pirates’ booty from an ancient Spanish shipwreck below or is Chad’s imagination in overdrive? Sherwin’s characters will be easily identifiable yet relatable to young-adult readers: Gene is the reluctant, responsible sidekick dragged into hero Chad’s noble but dangerous quest. The tropical setting is menacing, as killer storms rage overhead and natural elements hover with deadly threats. Nonstop action sequences build tension and keep readers engaged in a plot with a heady pace. Although Chad is a formidable hero and his desire to defend the protected reef is admirable, his characterization could benefit from more depth. When his overzealous actions nearly cost him and Gene their lives, readers might find Chad more believable if he expressed a measure of vulnerability amid the dire circumstances—or at least some self-awareness that his actions were reckless. Overall, though, the sunken-treasure story line blends well with the assortment of maritime facts in this terrific tall tale.

A perfect summer thriller for young readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-1462059584

Page Count: 152

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

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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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  • 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

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Combines disarming sensitivity to the nuances of the tangled relations among the characters with sledgehammer plotting.

FALSE WITNESS

A master of the no-holds-barred law enforcement thriller turns to legal intrigue, with shattering results.

A week before he’s to stand trial for the aggravated assault and rape of DataTel district manager Tammy Karlsen, car-dealership scion Andrew Tenant fires his lawyer and asks for a new one: Leigh Collier, a rising star at an Atlanta white-shoe firm. Originally baffled by the request, Leigh quickly realizes that her new client has a special reason to have asked for her: He’s recognized her from a magazine photo as the older sister of Callie, the babysitter who killed his father, Buddy Waleski, when his latest pedophile assault on her turned violent 23 years ago. In fact, the truth is even darker than that. Leigh was an active participant in the killing. Now she's determined to do everything she can to torpedo the defense she's preparing for Andrew, who’s accused of stabbing Tammy Karlsen in exactly the way Callie stabbed his father, while persuading both her client and her watchful senior partner that she’s doing her utmost to represent him. As she learns more and more particulars about the case and her client, Leigh realizes that her plan doesn’t go nearly far enough. Andrew is guilty of this assault and others, but he doesn’t just want her to get him off: He plans to blackmail her into complying with a potentially endless series of demands. How can she strike back at a monster who holds all the cards? Only by tapping into the depthless power of sisterhood with Callie, who’s descended into addiction but still loves Leigh with a ferocity that makes the pair of them as dangerous as the man who’s targeted them.

Combines disarming sensitivity to the nuances of the tangled relations among the characters with sledgehammer plotting.

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-285809-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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