The dense, erudite, multiparagraph lectures on microbiology slow down this better-than-average techno-thriller.

GENOCIDE OF ONE

Best-selling Japanese author Takano blends cell-manipulating microbiology and pyscho-cultural social analysis, all while sending four men into the Congo to save the human race.

It’s 2004, and President Gregory S. Burns occupies the Oval Office. War in Afghanistan and Iraq, yes, but the Heisman Report says mankind’s biggest threat is a 3-year-old Kanga Pygmy living in Congo’s Ituri Forest. A random mutation created a quantum leap in the boy’s intelligence, and the report says it could lead to the extinction of humankind, much as Homo sapiens wiped out Neanderthals. Shifting from Washington to Congo to Tokyo, Takano’s narrative zigzags from firefights to power-player conferences to the complex biochemical research required to find a treatment for PAECS—pulmonary alveolar epithelial cell sclerosis. Ex–Special Forces officer Jonathan “Hawk” Yeager quit the Army for big dollar security work to finance his son’s PAECS treatment. Leading Operation Guardian, Yeager believes his team is isolating a viral outbreak, but on the ground, he learns the 40 Kangas with whom the superhuman boy lives are to be assassinated to save the world from his mutation. Anthropologist Nigel Pierce is nurturing the boy, and the child is trying to ensure Yeager won’t kill him by enticing a Tokyo graduate student to formulate a drug to save Yeager’s son. The savant has written GIFT, a program to build and test pharmaceuticals within days rather than years. Japanese racial prejudice gets a rap, but Takano’s villain is the military-industrial complex and the United States’ evolution into Big Brother via Echelon, a program tracking everyone all the time. Takano’s action will appeal to Clancy-philes, but his theme explores how individual psychological frailties shape history, using an administration similar to Bush/Cheney as the bull in the international china shop. 

The dense, erudite, multiparagraph lectures on microbiology slow down this better-than-average techno-thriller.

Pub Date: Dec. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-316-22622-6

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 47

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • 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

Did you like this book?

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

more