Fans of Jeffery Deaver—that other thrill-master who can’t resist piling on the climactic twists even as the lights are...

THE SAMARITAN

Carter Blake, the “locating consultant” who made such a splash in his debut (The Killing Season, 2015), returns to help locate a bad boy who’s been awfully busy for an awfully long time.

The first corpse reported to Detective Jessica Allen, LAPD, isn’t that of Sarah Dutton, who disappeared from her wealthy father’s home with the Porsche he’d given her, but that of her friend Kelly Boden, who drove the Porsche back—well, partway back—from a wild party. The bodies of two other young women are discovered so soon thereafter that there’s never any doubt that a serial killer is at work, abducting women, torturing them, and ritualistically killing them. The Samaritan, as he’s swiftly dubbed by a TV reporter who’s apparently getting information from an unauthorized source, seems to prey on women stuck on lonely roads who need a helping hand. How long has he been at it? Allen’s research identifies at least two likely earlier victims. But these discoveries, disquieting as they are, are overshadowed by her much more disturbing memory of an unsolved murder she worked in Washington, D.C., before coming to LA six months ago, suggesting that the Samaritan has worked both coasts with a break of more than two years between killing sprees. Enter Blake with even more chilling news: the M.O. of all these murders links them both to the killing of Army Sgt. Willis Peterson in North Carolina and the 1997 slaughter of the Crozier family, almost certainly by Dean Crozier, the son whom there wasn’t enough evidence to arrest—a son reported killed in Afghanistan in 2004. Just how long has the Samaritan been at it, how many victims has he claimed, and when will the killing end?

Fans of Jeffery Deaver—that other thrill-master who can’t resist piling on the climactic twists even as the lights are coming up and you’re looking for your umbrella—should be enthralled.

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-60598-953-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Pegasus Crime

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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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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Assembly-line legal thriller: flat characters, lame scene-setting, and short but somehow interminable action: a lifeless...

SPLIT SECOND

Two defrocked Secret Service Agents investigate the assassination of one presidential candidate and the kidnapping of another.

Baldacci (The Christmas Train, 2002, etc.) sets out with two plot strands. The first begins when something distracts Secret Service Agent Sean King and during that “split second,” presidential candidate Clyde Ritter is shot dead. King takes out the killer, but that’s not enough to save his reputation with the Secret Service. He retires and goes on to do often tedious but nonetheless always lucrative work (much like a legal thriller such as this) at a law practice. Plot two begins eight years later when another Secret Service Agent, Michelle Maxwell, lets presidential candidate John Bruno out of her sight for a few minutes at a wake for one of his close associates. He goes missing. Now Maxwell, too, gets in dutch with the SS. Though separated by time, the cases are similar and leave several questions unanswered. What distracted King at the rally? Bruno had claimed his friend’s widow called him to the funeral home. The widow (one of the few characters here to have any life) says she never called Bruno. Who set him up? Who did a chambermaid at Ritter’s hotel blackmail? And who is the man in the Buick shadowing King’s and Maxwell’s every move? King is a handsome, rich divorce, Maxwell an attractive marathon runner. Will they join forces and find each other kind of, well, appealing? But of course. The two former agents traverse the countryside, spinning endless hypotheses before the onset, at last, of a jerrybuilt conclusion that begs credibility and offers few surprises.

Assembly-line legal thriller: flat characters, lame scene-setting, and short but somehow interminable action: a lifeless concoction.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2003

ISBN: 0-446-53089-1

Page Count: 406

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2003

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