An enjoyable read for Clancy fans.

READ REVIEW

TOM CLANCY OATH OF OFFICE

The spirit of Tom Clancy lives on as two generations of Jack Ryans continue to save America’s cookies (Power and Empire, 2017, etc.) in this doorstop-sized thriller.

President Jack Ryan has plenty of domestic problems—flooding down South, an outbreak of flu, faked videos showing him in a bad light, and the hateful Sen. Michelle Chadwick, who spouts dangerous lies about him. Certain Russians want to kill Chadwick and cause Ryan to be blamed. (Ha! As if the Ruskies would ever interfere in America’s business.) Meanwhile, Jack Junior, “the first born son of the immortal Jack Ryan,” is in the middle of the action overseas. An American woman is kidnapped in Cameroon. In Portugal, Junior’s cohort Ding Chavez surveils an “international arms dealer and fat man of intrigue” who is conspiring with the Russians on an incredibly profitable scheme involving nukes for Iran. A Russian aircraft vanishes, probably carrying nuclear material. The story has the staple characters such as John Clark, Ding, and Mary Pat Foley, but more interesting are the lesser folk like Lucile Fournier, the sexy killer and self-described “very nasty woman,” to whom readers had best not get too attached. There is Yazdani, the desperate father of a child with cystic fibrosis, who will trade military secrets for medicine if only he can trust Jack Junior. And Ysabel, who might be the love of Junior’s life if only he had the time. But no one reads Clancy for romance, anyway. Readers want global conflicts, fight scenes, and heroics. The Ryans are the idealized American heroes—they may be imperfect like you and me, but they have no fundamental flaws and even tolerate their haters: “Kindness came naturally to [President] Jack Ryan,” but bad guys “do not want to test me.” Author Cameron’s storytelling is indistinguishable from the late Clancy’s, down to infodumps that bulk up what could be a much shorter novel.

An enjoyable read for Clancy fans.

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1595-5

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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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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