If Hammer’s last case, Black Alley (1996), was an exercise in shamus nostalgia, this yarn regresses even further to the...

SOMETHING’S DOWN THERE

What a difference a half-century makes. The legendary hard-boiled master’s latest seafaring adventure, less Mike Hammer than Ernest Hemingway, packs all the wallop of a newborn kitten.

Mako Hooker calls himself a fisherman, and has a nifty boat, the Clamdip, and a Caribe captain, Billy Bright, to prove it. But the hush-hush government agency he retired from after a lethally successful career calls him an invaluable local resource when a series of vessels in the Bermuda Triangle fall prey to attacks by unknown causes. Could the boats be running into unexploded American bombs laid years ago? Or are the gouges in their hulls evidence of something with . . . teeth? When the Company sends down a crew under Mako’s ex-colleague Chana Sterling to coordinate with Mako, there’s a brief flare-up of Hammer’s unregenerate voice (“for a second he wished he had been packing his .45 . . . so he could turn and shoot her guts right out of her beautiful body and it would finally be over with for all time”) that’s so anachronistic it’s like seeing a prehistoric fish break the surface. Soon thereafter, though, the tale gets becalmed in criminal conspiracies that go nowhere (courtesy of smooth Hollywood producer Anthony Pell, formerly mobster Tony Pallatzo), a romance with Hollywood heiress Judy Durant that goes nowhere surprising, and a series of portentous hints about the mako shark that’s following the Clamdip into dangerous waters because it sees itself, not unnaturally, as Mako’s twin. It all ends with an unforgivably muffled finale that will leave an awful lot of readers wondering just what was down there.

If Hammer’s last case, Black Alley (1996), was an exercise in shamus nostalgia, this yarn regresses even further to the Boy’s Own Adventure period, complete with the girl in the pink bikini the hero wouldn’t dream of seducing.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7432-5146-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

DEATH ON THE NILE

A HERCULE POIROT MYSTERY (HERCULE POIROT MYSTERIES)

One of her best. Poirot, again on vacation, falls foul of a murder on board a Nile river steamer, followed by two successive murders, obviously connected. A sophisticated group, an ingenious plot, clever deduction, swift-paced narrative. A little romance on the side lends glamour. First rate entertainment.

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 1938

ISBN: 0062073559

Page Count: 354

Publisher: Dodd, Mead

Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1938

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 17

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

more