Jack Reacher is still going strong. Will satisfy fans—and newcomers, too.

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MAKE ME

From the Jack Reacher series , Vol. 20

In this 20th installment of Child’s action series (Personal, 2014, etc.), Jack Reacher ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time—perfectly positioning him to unravel a missing person mystery and save the day.

Living on the road with his toothbrush in his pocket, ex-military policeman/all-around-hero Reacher is wending his way across the country by train when he alights at Mother’s Rest on a whim, curious about the origin of the name. Instead of the expected historical marker, he finds a bunch of unfriendly townspeople and ex-FBI agent/PI Michelle Chang, who's searching for a missing colleague. Drawn irrevocably to both Chang and the mystery, Reacher fights to uncover the truth behind Mother’s Rest—a truth that involves the so-called “Deep Web,” the dark undercover space of the Internet. Reacher and Chang traverse the country from Oklahoma to Chicago, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and San Francisco in their quest for answers. The final showdown reveals that the crimes of Mother’s Rest are more sinister and terrible than they ever imagined. Despite (or maybe because of) the expected Reacher-novel formula, this series remains as compulsively readable as ever. Child is a master of pacing, stretching out the mystery through short chapters that give rise to bursts of well-choreographed violence. Sentences are choppy, dialogue is fast, yet there is authenticity to Reacher’s world, too. While the mystery is rather shallowly sketched in between the fight sequences, the setting is effectively bland, and the ending makes one feel true horror at the ways of men. Of course, the biggest strength is Reacher himself: impassive, analytical, secretly romantic, and relentlessly honorable. It’s impossible not to root for him and his lady friend of the moment—and Chang, to be fair, is tough, if not multidimensional.

Jack Reacher is still going strong. Will satisfy fans—and newcomers, too.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8041-7877-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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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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