Another full-throttle installment that shows that this crime series has no intention of slowing down.



From the Travelers series , Vol. 7

In King’s (The Murder Run, 2019) seventh Travelers novel, married con artists help rob an island casino.

The two main characters adopt different names in every town they visit. Here, in Madisonville, he’s Paul Longmont and she’s Jessie Taggert. Jessie has spent the last two months “worming her way” into wealthy Hugo Lansing’s life. Paul, meanwhile, poses as someone in need of $500,000 in bearer bonds, which Lansing can provide—for a $100,000 fee. After the wily couple swipes the bonds and sells them back to Lansing for 10 cents on the dollar, Alexander Koenig, the man who got Paul into the con game, contacts them. He asks the pair to join a crew that’s going to hit the Solomon Island casino, off the coast of Bathsheba City. The plan, as Koenig tells it, is to rob the room safes as a distraction while going for a larger prize: more than $1 million of mobster Jeffrey Smithson’s laundered cash. Two noteworthy pieces of information: There are no guns allowed on the island, and the date of the planned heist is Smithson’s 70th birthday, so he’ll be surrounded by immediate family. While posing as casino workers Max and Kelly Jo Barlow, can the Travelers outmaneuver other greedy cons and learn the suspicious Koenig’s real mission? King dials back his protagonists’ personal drama, which will offer new readers a clean introduction to the series. As always, the initial con is just complex enough to maintain interest, with repercussions that may or may not bleed into the rest of the story. King resists the temptation to delve too far into Koenig’s backstory, although he establishes that Paul has “always dreamed of beating him at his own game.” JB and Lulu, another con artist couple, capably play tit for tat with the Travelers, showing the canny author at the height of his game. There’s some good gallows humor, as well, as when Max asks Kelly Jo if they should pose as missionaries, and she replies, “Have you heard the good news?” Although events crest early, the second half juggles a challenging number of moving parts.

Another full-throttle installment that shows that this crime series has no intention of slowing down.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2019


Page Count: 209

Publisher: Blurred Lines Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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


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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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.


Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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