Endearing main characters help this caper rise above its clichés.

ARE YOU LONESOME TONIGHT?

In this old-fashioned caper novel, two former high school heroes find themselves on the run from the law after they reconnect while vacationing with their families at Disney World.

Remember that handsome high school quarterback? The popular kid who scored on and off the field? In later life, he might resemble Joe Randall and Chad Dablusie, two old friends and aging heartthrobs whose glory days are long past. Despite having the world at their feet back in the 1950s, the men have tumbled into middle age, trading their athletic prowess and rock-star good looks for paunches and receding hairlines. They lost touch after graduation but reunite when they bump into each other on family vacations at Disney World. Joe and Chad are happily married to beautiful women and have lovely children, and if they no longer turn heads, they have successful, fulfilling lives. They reconnect immediately and spend a day ruminating about their shared past. Events take an unexpected turn when the dynamic duo try to regain their former cool by visiting Turn Back Time, a store that promises to help men look ten years younger. Following their makeovers, Joe and Chad are riding high and stumble into a drug bust. Suddenly they find themselves on the run from the law after people mistake them for high-powered criminals. The story follows their escapades and those of their families, who flee to a safe house. While Joe and Chad are lovable, Clark invests the other characters with less appeal. However, the two friends are the main show as they bumble through botched attempts to clear their names and return to normal lives. The story certainly requires a suspension of disbelief as Joe and Chad evade the authorities and find their lives at risk. The men also spend far too much time reminiscing about the old days, though the plot keeps moving. A surprise revelation and twist at the end make for interesting reading, though the abrupt conclusion leaves some strings hanging.

Endearing main characters help this caper rise above its clichés.

Pub Date: March 18, 2009

ISBN: 978-1438948782

Page Count: 360

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2012

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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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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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