WATCH ME GO

Wisniewski fails to take into account how modern police forensics would have implicated others and, in at least one case,...

Wisniewski's novel, billed as a work of literary suspense, introduces readers to two people whose paths cross through tragedy and misfortune.

Deesh is a black man awaiting trial on charges of murder. He isn’t crazy about his lawyer or his chances until a pretty white girl, Jan Price, comes to see him. Jan tells him she has information that can exonerate him. The story is told in alternating chapters by Deesh and Jan, who reach back over the past and recount where their lives took individual turns that ended with their intersection. For Deesh, it began when his old basketball buddies, Bark and James, took him to a place north of Poughkeepsie, New York, to pick up an old barrel that obviously held a body. After being paid for their deed, the three men drove to a wooded area and dumped the barrel, then panicked. They decided to run but gambled their pay on the horses to up their take and then Bark killed a cop while he and Deesh were fleeing. Meanwhile, Jan and her mother moved from Arkansas to stay with their old friends Tom and Colleen Corcoran, whose son, Tug, owns a failing horse farm. In her quest to become a jockey like her father, Jan starts digging deep into the racing culture with the result that she and Tug start to fall in love. Wisniewski runs into several problems in his approach to the material: Deesh, who is stuck in an interesting situation, is so stereotypical that readers will find him more caricature than character; while Jan’s jumbled story has odd interludes where Tug’s thoughts and feelings entwine with her own. The result: confusing, sometimes-lackluster prose. 

Wisniewski fails to take into account how modern police forensics would have implicated others and, in at least one case, cleared Deesh altogether in this very odd outing.

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-17212-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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DEVOLUTION

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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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. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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

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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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