The spine occasionally tingles, but if you can’t buy the psychic bit . . .

CHILL OF FEAR

Psychics converge on a Tennessee Mountain resort where big trouble is a-comin’ and dead people are a-lurkin’. Round two in Hooper’s Fear trilogy (Hunting Fear, 2004).

Responding to forces larger than themselves, members of the FBI’s Special Crimes Unit (variously skilled “sensitives” recruited over the years by Agent Noah Bishop) have positioned themselves at The Lodge, a mountain resort catering to the special needs of the famous and powerful. Special needs would be your basic romp with the mistress, flirtation with the housemaid, quick detox, that sort of thing, all accomplished in an atmosphere of total discretion and off the books. Alas, it seems that one of the special needs of someone associated with the grand Victorian spa seems to be murder. Ever since construction began around the turn of the 20th century there has been an unusually high death rate in The Lodge’s neighborhood. Not part of the nervous FBI crew hanging around, but of great interest to them is pretty, rich Diana Brisco, a guest at The Lodge referred by her shrink for a course of art therapy in the relaxed, caring atmosphere. Diana has spent two thirds of her life drugged to the gills by a succession of doctors hoping to treat blackouts and other plaguesome symptoms that have made life hell for two out of her three decades. What Diana and the men of science have failed to understand (psychic gifts not being covered in med school) is that Diana is a first-rate medium. Special Crimes Unit agent Quentin Hayes, whose psychic gift is the occasional peek at the future, recognizes what the docs didn’t, and gently leads her to an understanding of her powers. Weaned off her medications, Diana begins to understand that the juvenile murder victims she’s been spending time with outside of painting class really need her help. An Evil Thing is about to return to The Lodge.

The spine occasionally tingles, but if you can’t buy the psychic bit . . .

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2005

ISBN: 0-553-80317-4

Page Count: 325

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2005

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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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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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