The gripping story of a shadowy killer, especially thrilling for sci-fi fans.

SHADOW DRAGON

In Horton’s hard-hitting debut, a realistic thriller with sci-fi elements, vicious murders and a possible government coverup bring the FBI to sleepy Montana.

In the mountains near Kalispell, Mont., victim specialist Kyle Andrews, from Seattle, joins agent Lewis Edwards, also of the FBI, to investigate the brutal murders of three men. The victims were staying in a cabin near the Hungry Horse reservoir, owned by an older couple, Bill and Audrey Jones. Body parts were found, prompting the locals to wonder if it was someone or something that did the killing. Working with Sheriff Grayhawk and Tony Marasco of the Kalispell FBI, Kyle hopes to secure a promotion if all goes well. When Bill and Audrey Jones are also brutally murdered, their orphaned granddaughter, Carrie Daniels, visits Kalispell to say goodbye to her beloved grandparents; but her job as a reporter for the Denver Enquirer makes it hard for her not to investigate. Kyle is immediately struck by Carrie’s beauty and strength, especially considering all she’s been through—losing her parents and now her grandparents and dealing with her recent split from an abusive ex-boyfriend. Carrie and Kyle form a stronger bond when they find a mysterious connection between the murders and a government-linked company called GenTech. Nathan, a hit man hired by GenTech, is severing anything that links the company and the government to the cause of the Hungry Horse murders—Carrie and Kyle included. Horton expertly builds suspense around the murders, while the emotional conflict between Sheriff Grayhawk and his Native American grandmother highlights the question of whether the perpetrator might be supernatural. Fortunately, the lean writing isn’t bulky or overwrought, and the storylines convincingly intertwine in the well-established plot. The government link adds to the intrigue, and hints of the supernatural invigorate this thriller. Horton compellingly describes Sheriff Grayhawk’s unease as he approaches the shadows that lurk in the mountains: “In spite of the light of the moon, it was still impossible to see into the dark recesses of the forest, but that didn’t matter to George. He knew something was out there. He could sense it.”

The gripping story of a shadowy killer, especially thrilling for sci-fi fans.

Pub Date: May 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1462007660

Page Count: 424

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Nov. 8, 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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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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Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

BOOK OF NIGHT

A former thief who specialized in stealing magical documents is forced back into her old habits in Black's adult debut.

Charlie Hall used to work as a thief, stealing for and from magicians—or rather, “gloamists.” In this world, gloamists are people with magical shadows that are alive, gaining strength from the gloamists' own blood. A gloamist can learn to manipulate the magic of their shadow, doing everything from changing how it looks to using it to steal, possess a person, or even murder. Gloamists hire nonmagical people like Charlie to steal precious and rare magical documents written by their kind throughout history and detailing their research and experiments in shadow magic. Gloamists can use onyx to keep each other from sending shadows to steal these treasures, but onyx won't stop regular humans from old-fashioned breaking and entering. After Charlie’s talent for crime gets her into too much trouble, she swears off her old career and tries to settle down with her sensible boyfriend, Vince—but when she finds a dead man in an alley and notices that even his shadow has been ripped to pieces, she can’t help trying to figure out who he was and why he met such a gruesome end. Before she knows it, Charlie is forced back into a life of lies and danger, using her skills as a thief to find a book that could unleash the full and terrifying power of the shadow world. Black is a veteran fantasy writer, which shows in the opening pages as she neatly and easily guides the reader through the engrossing world of gloamists, magical shadows, and Charlie’s brand of criminality. There's a lot of flipping back and forth between the past and the present, and though both timelines are well plotted and suspenseful, the story leans a touch too hard on the flashbacks. Still, the mystery elements are well executed, as is Charlie’s characterization, and the big twist at the end packs a satisfying punch.

Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-81219-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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