MOONLIGHT BECOMES YOU

The arresting opening tableau—a young woman buried alive in a satin-lined coffin—is a perfect image for the sleekly cushioned menace Clark dispenses in her 13th novel (Silent Night, 1995, etc.). Flashback 20 days to the night photographer Maggie Holloway meets her long-ago stepmother, Nuala Moore, and Nuala invites her to visit her place in Newport. Before Maggie's arrival, though- -and, more crucially, before Nuala can carry out her plan to move into the nonpareil Latham Manor Residence—Nuala is killed and her house ransacked, and Maggie finds to her astonishment that Nuala's will leaves the Newport house to her. Why would anybody want to kill an inoffensive old lady like Nuala? Well, somebody might be trying to pick up her house for a song (somebody like Nuala's attorney Malcolm Norton or shady broker Douglas Hansen); or somebody might be after the fat deposit the next applicant for Nuala's new suite would have to pay Latham Manor (somebody like incompetent director Dr. William Lane or nosey nurse Zelda Markey); or somebody might need to shut Nuala up about her knowledge of several other suspect deaths, with another still impending, of Latham Manor residents (whoever may have helped those residents into the great beyond); or somebody might be just a little obsessed with the whole subject of death (somebody like wild-eyed funeral expert Prof. Earl Bateman). As usual in her recent work, Clark ends up tying all these threats in together, so that the land grab, the nursing-home deposit scam, the investment fraud, the sinister messages sent by a series of funeral bells, and the Latham Manor murders all turn out to be the work of a single diligent soul, who (don't forget) has the same wicked designs on Maggie as on Nuala. About average for Clark's G-rated thrillers, as if you were counting—with enough material on funerary customs to make you resolve to live forever. (Literary Guild Main Selection; author tour)

Pub Date: May 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-684-81038-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1996

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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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