As with all of Greaney’s work, this is a fun read. If only all our wars were fiction.

RED METAL

Russia launches war in Europe and Africa in this military thriller reminiscent of the late Tom Clancy.

A small group of Chinese communist special forces sneaks into Taiwan to assassinate a politician and provoke a war. This attracts intense U.S. attention—perfect timing for Russia to launch Operation Red Metal and “retain its proper place in the world.” The Russians' ultimate goal is to keep control of a rare-earth mine in Kenya, for which they need to wield “a scalpel through the heart of Europe” to destroy AFRICOM, the U.S. Africa Command headquartered in Germany. They kill Western satellites to take out GPS and make Europe deaf, mute, and blind. On Christmas Day, Russian trains disguised as civilian transport deliver offensive forces into Europe, unloading troops and tanks. They also attack in Kenya, where battles rage. NATO hasn’t detected this military buildup and is taken completely by surprise. A Russian general opines that the U.S. can’t fight a conventional force anymore, embroiled as it’s been in Afghanistan. Ha! Tell it to the Marines, like Lt. Col. Dan Connolly, who knows “this world’s a damn dangerous place” and figures out what the enemy is up to. The war lasts about a week, plenty of time for intense battle scenes and the distinct possibility of tactical nukes. Having produced well over 600 pages, Greaney and Rawlings, his Marine co-author, had a bout of logorrhea, but the collaboration has yielded plenty of realism. There are some good lines, as when an A-10 pilot strafes the ground while screaming “Die, Commie, die!” (He apparently didn’t get the memo about the USSR.) But the best line: “And as long as we get to pop a bunch of those Russkies, death ain’t but a thing.” Readers will be humming "The Marines’ Hymn” after finishing this paean to the U.S. Marines. Hoorah!

As with all of Greaney’s work, this is a fun read. If only all our wars were fiction.

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-451-49041-4

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once...

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

In Baldacci’s 19th (True Blue, 2009, etc.), boy and girl monster-hunters meet cute.

Evan Waller, aka Fadir Kuchin, aka “the Butcher of Kiev,” aka “the Ukrainian psychopath,” is one of those deep-dyed villains a certain kind of fiction can’t do without. Serving with distinction as part of the Soviet Union’s KGB, he joyfully and indiscriminately killed thousands. Now, many years later, posing as a successful businessman, he’s vacationing in Provence where, unbeknownst to him, two separate clandestine operations are being mounted by people who do not regard him with favor. Reggie Campion—28 and gorgeous—spearheads the first, an ad hoc group of monster-hunting vigilantes. Studly, tall Shaw (no first name supplied) is point guard for a rival team, shadowy enough to leave the matter of its origin ambiguous. While their respective teams reconnoiter and jockey for position, studly boy meets gorgeous girl. Monster-hunters are famous for having trust issues, but clearly these are drawn to each other in the time-honored Hollywood fashion. Shaw saves Reggie’s life. She returns the favor. The attraction deepens and heats up to the point where team-members on both sides grow unsettled by the loss of focus, singularly inopportune since, as monsters go, Waller rises to the second coming of Caligula—ample testimony furnished by a six-page, unsparingly detailed torture scene. In the end, the stalkers strike, bullets fly, screams curdle the blood, love has its innings and a monster does what a monster’s got to do.

The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once again show the stuff it’s made of.

Pub Date: April 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-446-56408-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Avon A/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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