by Katie Smith Matison ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 27, 2014
An often satisfying marriage of legal thriller and police procedural.
In Matison’s debut novel, a deep-sea diver is killed after stumbling upon the wreckage of an old ship carrying valuable gemstones, inciting an international legal battle.
Harris Blake, a onetime professor of marine biology, abandons his academic post to deep-sea dive for treasure off the Florida coast. His wife, Brandy, bankrolls his risky hunts, and his trusty business partner, Thad Stuart, shares his appetite for adventure. It’s a relatively fruitless operation, until Harris finds himself nearly 500 feet below international waters. There, the wreckage of a long-forgotten ship, Byzantium, reveals a trove of emerald gemstones. Shortly after his discovery, however, he’s found dead. A grieving Brandy moves herself and her young daughter to her grandmother’s house in New Orleans, where she begins the lengthy process of tidying up her late husband’s estate. But instead of finding closure, Brandy and her lawyers discover that the gemstones are valued at millions of dollars and that their ownership is up for dispute. As news of the fortune spreads, forces on either side of the Atlantic conspire against Brandy, revealing a larger criminal conspiracy that could explain her husband’s death. When Harris’ once-loyal partner bids against Brandy’s claim, she realizes that there are many sharks above water, including hungry-eyed insurance brokers in London, bounty seekers in the Caribbean and ruthless assassins working for hire. Soon, she enlists the help of a boutique New Orleans law firm to win reparations that she believes are rightfully hers. Matison sets up an international legal procedural with believable villains, and her dialogue deftly shoulders the burden of explaining difficult legal jargon. However, the chapters alternate between Brandy’s perspective and those of others, including that of Raleigh, a precocious garden squirrel who has the ability to communicate in human speech. (Raleigh is the companion of Brandy’s grandmother, a lonely woman who confides in the creature over games of checkers.) The inclusion of this unusual animal hampers the otherwise engrossing proceedings, which include depositions fraught with tension and an intricate kidnapping subplot. Aside from these regular interruptions, the novel shines as a high-stakes legal drama that entwines the fates of Brandy and her family with those of other stakeholders.An often satisfying marriage of legal thriller and police procedural.
Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2014
Page Count: 510
Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2015
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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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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