A page-turner offering a modern interpretative twist on the life and teachings of Jesus.

BOOK OF JUDAS

A New York journalist must unravel secrets related to the lost Gospel of Judas.

New York Daily News columnist Stasi (The Sixth Station, 2013, etc.) brings back her New York City journalist, Alessandra Russo, who's balancing a demanding work life with all the realities of being a single mother to a newborn. This stressful but manageable life takes a turn for the dramatic—and even the terrifying—when Alessandra’s best friend, Roy, a gay, Jewish retired firefighter suffering from PTSD, calls with news of his hated father’s death and the strange inheritance he's left behind. It appears that Roy’s father had been hiding a missing section of the Gospel of Judas, a pivotal religious document uncovered in the 1970s and then lost again until the year 2000, when most of it was found in a safe-deposit box on Long Island. Roy's father was a manager at the bank, and on his deathbed, he told Roy he'd stolen "the pages that revealed Jesus' secret to resurrection." Now Ali has what could be the story of her life, but a problem crops up when Roy is accused of having murdered his father. "I wanted to. But I didn't," he tells her. With her friend behind bars, Alessandra must come up with the money to bail him out, and the only option is a treacherous journey to Israel to peddle this mysterious gospel. This spur-of-the-moment trip, taken at a time when all her usual child care has fallen through, means she has no choice but to leave her baby with her eccentric neighbors overnight until her parents can arrive. Fretting about the safety of her child and reunited with a mysterious man from her past, Alessandra dives into an adventure where she encounters a shadowy world of black market merchants, religious fanatics, and international spies. Along the way, the reader is exposed to a fair amount of intriguing historical information and some conjectures of questionable validity.

A page-turner offering a modern interpretative twist on the life and teachings of Jesus.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7653-7875-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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