A dark, engaging biomedical mystery with a clever, no-nonsense detective.

F.O.X.

From the Jessica James Mystery series , Vol. 3

Crime strikes close to home in Oliver’s (Coyote, 2016, etc.) third series installment featuring the unconventional cowgirl-philosopher-sleuth Jessica James.

Jessica, a Montana-bred young woman, is defying her mother’s advice to “play house with a ‘nice boy,’ grow a garden, can some peaches, and procreate,” and instead pursues graduate studies in Chicago, where she occasionally solves crimes. She’s a fascinating central character, and in her latest adventure, trouble comes looking for her when she accepts a drink at a bar from a handsome stranger while waiting for her friend, stoner medical student Jack Grove. She later wakes up naked, next to a Dumpster in a freezing-cold abandoned lot, with no memory of what happened the previous night. She stumbles to a nearby hospital, where they inform her that she’s recently had cervical surgery. She calls her formidable friend, Lolita Durchenko, and after they leave the hospital, they make their way back to the Dumpster, where they discover a young woman’s dead body—in the same exact spot where Jessica had woken up earlier. That woman is Sara Shaner, a med student and, it turns out, Jack’s most recent lover. Jack informs them of this when he happens to spot them while speeding by in a car, driven by Lolita’s cousin Ivanov; it turns out that they’re fleeing the cops after an adventure of their own. Oliver juggles the many moving parts of her interconnected plots with the same smooth skill and breakneck pacing that characterized previous books in this series. That said, it’s not necessary to read the other installments in sequence, as this volume stands quite well on its own. This book’s many action sequences are unfailingly entertaining, and no matter how dire the circumstances, her characters are always ready with a wisecrack; indeed, even in the emergency room, Jessica has quips at hand. When a former lover of Jack’s asks her whether he still has commitment issues, she says, “If you mean Jackass should be committed, then yes.”

A dark, engaging biomedical mystery with a clever, no-nonsense detective.

Pub Date: May 1, 2017

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 309

Publisher: Kaos Press

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2017

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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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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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