A page-turning sprint with the potential for a series of thrillers starring the nautical hero.

BAYTOWN SALVAGE

A struggling captain of a salvage tug and his crew find plenty of trouble on a scorching vessel.

Wheaton (Wages of Sin, 2017, etc.) has lately been whipping up a storm of thrillers. This time, he sets his sights on the pill-popping captain of the salvage tug Yemanjá, Wyatt Stoke, and his ragtag band of misfits—first mate Jake Delahoussaye, an aging alcoholic; engineer Chuy Perez, a former gang member and three-time felon; and Party Mpanbani, a tall, experienced salvager from South Africa without a green card. Wyatt has already washed out of the Navy, been dropped as a long-haul trucker after a random drug test, and lost his job with a power company in Louisiana. Then a barely remembered uncle leaves him his salvage tug and a “crumbling old swamp shack” on the wrong side of Baytown, Texas, on the Gulf of Mexico. If only Wyatt could make some money out of the small, underfunded company that must compete with the big guys. When a container ship is reported burning and unanchored, drifting toward the entrance to Buffalo Bayou, and nobody seems to be racing to stake the salvage claim, Wyatt sees his chance—board the vessel and turn on the sprinkler system to keep the craft from sinking. Difficult, dangerous, and potentially lucrative. But when he and Jake finally reach the engine room, they discover the bodies of two men who had been tied up and shot; they are now involved in something far larger and more sinister than a salvage operation. This is a plot-driven narrative filled with a broad assortment of menacing players, from bayou swamp rats to a beautiful Russian oligarch. Despite the minimum attention paid to character development, Wyatt and his cohorts come off as a likable, loyal makeshift family that readers can root for. Occasional editing blips are intrusive (for example, “There were ten times as men law enforcement officials”), but overall the pace never slackens. Wheaton includes enough details about the mechanics of diving and the legalities of salvaging to create a realistic background for this over-the-top adventure.

A page-turning sprint with the potential for a series of thrillers starring the nautical hero.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2018

  • New York Times Bestseller

CIRCE

A retelling of ancient Greek lore gives exhilarating voice to a witch.

“Monsters are a boon for gods. Imagine all the prayers.” So says Circe, a sly, petulant, and finally commanding voice that narrates the entirety of Miller’s dazzling second novel. The writer returns to Homer, the wellspring that led her to an Orange Prize for The Song of Achilles (2012). This time, she dips into The Odyssey for the legend of Circe, a nymph who turns Odysseus’ crew of men into pigs. The novel, with its distinctive feminist tang, starts with the sentence: “When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” Readers will relish following the puzzle of this unpromising daughter of the sun god Helios and his wife, Perse, who had negligible use for their child. It takes banishment to the island Aeaea for Circe to sense her calling as a sorceress: “I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began.” This lonely, scorned figure learns herbs and potions, surrounds herself with lions, and, in a heart-stopping chapter, outwits the monster Scylla to propel Daedalus and his boat to safety. She makes lovers of Hermes and then two mortal men. She midwifes the birth of the Minotaur on Crete and performs her own C-section. And as she grows in power, she muses that “not even Odysseus could talk his way past [her] witchcraft. He had talked his way past the witch instead.” Circe’s fascination with mortals becomes the book’s marrow and delivers its thrilling ending. All the while, the supernatural sits intriguingly alongside “the tonic of ordinary things.” A few passages coil toward melodrama, and one inelegant line after a rape seems jarringly modern, but the spell holds fast. Expect Miller’s readership to mushroom like one of Circe’s spells.

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-55634-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

more