Fast-paced and fluent, with all the authors’ trademark stratagems. Sure to be a hit, though best read by those with strong...

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THE RABBIT HUNTER

More Scandinavian psychopathy from the pseudonymous husband-wife team.

Sometimes a boy needs his dad. It being a Shakespearean world, sometimes a boy just needs to kill his dad, even if the paternity is not firmly established—in which instance you can bet on plenty of collateral damage. In Kepler’s newest, the bodies stack up quickly. The first to fall is Sweden’s foreign minister, who is decidedly not a nice guy and has his eyes shot out for his transgressions. That’s not the least icky of the ugly fates visited on the so-called Rabbit Hunter’s victims, as when the killer gazes meaningfully at one of them and “decides that he’s going to cut his legs off and watch him crawl like a snail through his own blood.” Against this gruesome backdrop, only Joona Linna, the ethnically Finnish Swedish supercop, stands a chance of sussing out what’s going on. Trouble is, he’s in the slammer, having been locked away in a maximum security prison for the last two years for his part in events that unfolded in Stalker (2019). It’s only when the prime minister, suspecting that his foreign minister’s death has come at the hands of terrorists, intercedes to make Joona “a highly unorthodox offer” that he can swing back into action with Stockholm cop Saga Bauer and figure out why it is that the trail of blood leads to a TV studio by way of a Chicago psychiatric hospital. As always, along with the many bodies left behind by the “spree killer,” there’s a shoal of red herrings in Kepler’s narrative—human smugglers here, Afghan refugees and the FBI there—and all sorts of ancillary unpleasantries, from rape to evisceration and the chilling thought that when the Rabbit Killer’s victims finally die, various bits of their bodies removed, “the world becomes completely still, like a winter landscape."

Fast-paced and fluent, with all the authors’ trademark stratagems. Sure to be a hit, though best read by those with strong stomachs.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3228-8

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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

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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