Entertaining escapist fare via crime fighting from New York to London to Venice via private jets, luxury hotels and yachts...

THE STOLEN CHALICE

In award-winning reporter Pilgrim’s (The Explorer’s Code, 2011) latest mainstream adventure, the social register’s big names walk the red carpet at the Ancient Civilizations Ball at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. There, the glitterati witness the theft of some precious antiquities. 

One guest is the intriguingly handsome John Sinclair, a titan amongst archaeologists and a man with a reputation for skillful recovery of stolen antiquities. In a high-dollar narrative rife with stops at the Carlyle, Mayfair, and Balmoral and laced with superlatives about the rich-and-famous lifestyle—think Maybach sedans, Gulfstream jets and oceangoing yachts—Sinclair is hired to recover the Sardonyx Cup, carved in Alexandria’s Ptolemaic era and later used in Communion at the wedding Mass of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis VII. The Sardonyx Cup’s legend says it imparts long life and prosperity. The cup belongs to mega-rich Ted VerPlanck, whose wife, Tipper, is addicted to alcohol, drugs, rock stars and film directors. Her weaknesses come into play, as do the missteps and ultimate financial ruin of Charlie Hannifin, a museum official easy to corrupt. The stolen art also provides cult-leader terrorist Moustaffa Gemeyal with financial resources, which are laundered by the Manucci crime family. In the complex and confused operation that purloined the cup and the Museum of Art's antiquities, the Brooklyn Museum also lost the Fayoum mummy of Artemidorus, a theft engineered by the half-Egyptian Lady Xandra Sommerset, Moustaffa’s sometime lover. That plops Dr. Holly Graham, Sinclair’s former lover, into the middle of his recovery adventure, which in turn lures Carter Wallace, a young assistant with a crush on Holly, into the mix. Holly’s presence doesn’t sit well with Cordelia Stapleton, Sinclair’s new flame, who tags along only to be kidnapped by Lady Sommerset. The cup is found and the mummy too, and then Sinclair takes time to prevent Moustaffa’s bioterrorist attack on an international conference at Sharm el Sheikh.

Entertaining escapist fare via crime fighting from New York to London to Venice via private jets, luxury hotels and yachts at sea.

Pub Date: June 26, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4391-9728-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 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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The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once...

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

In Baldacci’s 19th (True Blue, 2009, etc.), boy and girl monster-hunters meet cute.

Evan Waller, aka Fadir Kuchin, aka “the Butcher of Kiev,” aka “the Ukrainian psychopath,” is one of those deep-dyed villains a certain kind of fiction can’t do without. Serving with distinction as part of the Soviet Union’s KGB, he joyfully and indiscriminately killed thousands. Now, many years later, posing as a successful businessman, he’s vacationing in Provence where, unbeknownst to him, two separate clandestine operations are being mounted by people who do not regard him with favor. Reggie Campion—28 and gorgeous—spearheads the first, an ad hoc group of monster-hunting vigilantes. Studly, tall Shaw (no first name supplied) is point guard for a rival team, shadowy enough to leave the matter of its origin ambiguous. While their respective teams reconnoiter and jockey for position, studly boy meets gorgeous girl. Monster-hunters are famous for having trust issues, but clearly these are drawn to each other in the time-honored Hollywood fashion. Shaw saves Reggie’s life. She returns the favor. The attraction deepens and heats up to the point where team-members on both sides grow unsettled by the loss of focus, singularly inopportune since, as monsters go, Waller rises to the second coming of Caligula—ample testimony furnished by a six-page, unsparingly detailed torture scene. In the end, the stalkers strike, bullets fly, screams curdle the blood, love has its innings and a monster does what a monster’s got to do.

The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once again show the stuff it’s made of.

Pub Date: April 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-446-56408-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Avon A/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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