A propulsive and all-too-timely near-future thriller.

AFTERLAND

It’s been about three years since HCV, a fatal cancer-causing virus targeting men, began sweeping the world.

Now, in 2023, there's no cure in sight and reproduction has been made illegal to cut down on further infections in baby boys. Men and boys are hot commodities to both the interim government and other distinctly unsavory parties, but Cole isn’t about to surrender her 12-year-old son, Miles, who seems to be immune, to anyone. In fact, the only thing she cares about is getting home to Johannesburg, South Africa, but it won’t be easy. While in the U.S. visiting family, Cole’s husband, Devon, died, and Cole and Miles were herded into army quarantine, where Miles, under the auspices of the Male Protection Act, endured a seemingly endless series of tests. But Cole just wants to go home, and soon after they're moved to a new bunker, she and her sister, Billie, who reunited with Cole and Miles at the military base after a job as executive chef on a superyacht went south, hatch an escape plan. But the conniving Billie doesn’t have their best interests in mind, and Cole is forced to resort to violence. Now Cole and Miles, disguised as “Mila,” are on the run. Meanwhile, Billie, sporting a nasty head injury courtesy of a Cole-wielded tire iron, must find Miles and deliver him to the very bad women she works for or they’ll kill her. An already hellish road trip takes a strange turn when Miles and an exhausted Cole, seeking any kind of respite, join up with the nomadic nuns of the Church of All Sorrows, a cultish order that believes men will return if women would only repent for an endless litany of sins. Cole has a plan, but getting to the departure point alive will test her—and her relationship with her son—to the very limit. Miles and his mom form the beating heart of a harrowing tale that ably explores grief, motherhood, and gender roles, and Cole’s struggle to protect Miles as he grapples with coming-of-age in a radically altered world will resonate. Beukes is a gifted storyteller who makes it thrillingly easy for readers to fall under her spell as she weaves a hypnotic vision of a fractured world without men.

A propulsive and all-too-timely near-future thriller.

Pub Date: July 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-26783-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Not for the squeamish but a jolt for thriller junkies.

RELENTLESS

The 10th installment in the Gray Man series begins with a dent in the hero’s armor and revs up with nonstop action.

Court Gentry, aka the Gray Man, is recovering from a stab wound, and he really needs to get some rest. He’s tired and badly weakened, not yet fit for operational duty, but the CIA’s off-the-books contract killer is “wholly unaccustomed to free time.” Soon he’s in Caracas, trying to spring his comrade in arms Zack Hightower from a Venezuelan prison. Then he’s off to Germany to deal with a possible coordinated attack on Americans in Berlin. Gentry, whose CIA code name is Violator, is that rare killer with a heart, so he takes only “righteous and worthy” assignments and does them right. His CIA boss congratulates him on one assassination, saying “You put a warhead on his forehead.” Gentry’s in love with Zoya Zakharova, a field operative also working for the CIA, but gunning down bad guys keeps both too busy for a meaningful relationship. Meanwhile, a sultan in the United Arab Emirates can hardly wait for his father to die of cancer, and an Iranian Quds sleeper agent plots mayhem in Berlin. Evildoers abound in this bloody thriller, including Americans. But the star of the scum is Maksim Akulov, who works for the Russian Mafia and whose target is Zakharova. Think of Akulov as the Gray Man without the moral compass. The title aptly fits the plot, as the hero scarcely takes a breather. There’s enough bloodshed to pour into two thrillers, and author Greaney doesn’t spare the good guys. Gentry’s body is “racked with pain and exhaustion” much of the time, but he is relentless. And Zack gets more than scratched while he thinks that “fighting a robot attack would be one badass way to go.”

Not for the squeamish but a jolt for thriller junkies.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-09895-0

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Engaging and deftly paced, another thoughtfully entertaining summer read from Silva.

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THE ORDER

A legendary spy takes a vacation—or tries to, anyway—in Silva’s 20th Gabriel Allon novel.

Gabriel is trying to enjoy some rest and relaxation with his family in Venice when he learns that an old friend has died. As it happens, this old friend was Pope Paul VII, and it’s not long before Allon is summoned by the pontiff’s personal secretary. Archbishop Luigi Donati has reason to believe that the Holy Father did not die a natural death. For each of the past several summers, Silva has delivered a thriller that seems to be ripped from the headlines. This latest book feels, at first, like something of a throwback. Palace intrigue at the Vatican might seem quaint compared to Islamist extremism or Russia’s rise as an international influence, but Silva makes it relevant and compelling. Allon discovers that the most likely culprits in the death of the pope are connected to far-right leaders throughout Europe, and the rediscovery of a lost Gospel sheds new light on Christian anti-Semitism. The villains here are Catholic traditionalists—Silva’s imaginary Paul VII looks a lot like the real-life Francis I—and “populist” politicians who appeal to nativist, anti-globalist sympathies. As Silva looks at European contempt for a new wave of immigrants from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, he finds a model for this xenophobia in ancient hatred of the Jewish people, an antipathy that has its roots in the New Testament. He interjects a few Bible studies lessons and offers a bit of history as background; these passages add depth without impeding the forward momentum of the plot. Readers familiar with this series may notice the evolution of a motif introduced a few novels ago: In the world of Gabriel Allon, the United States has receded from relevance on the world stage.

Engaging and deftly paced, another thoughtfully entertaining summer read from Silva.

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-283484-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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