Like the Oregon itself, this novel is fast-moving, implausible, and fun.

CLIVE CUSSLER'S HELLBURNER

This is the 16th installment of the action-packed Oregon Files series.

The mercenary Juan Cabrillo and his dedicated Oregon crew confront a ship carrying contraband, which leads to uncovering the Pipeline, a massive smuggling enterprise. As the series’ fans know, the Oregon is a 590-foot “rust bucket tramp steamer” on the outside and a technological marvel on the inside. It can zip like a speedboat and even change colors. The primary antagonists are two businessmen named Hakobyan and Katrakis, one Armenian and the other Greek, who have known each other for more than 50 years. Their Pipeline is a conduit for transporting arms, munitions, and meth, making it “the envy of the criminal world.” Now the Armenian has a plan to achieve “wealth beyond imagination” and avenge the genocide of Armenians by Turks in the process. They will steal a 100-megaton bomb and explode it underwater in the Bosporus to cause a tsunami that will “drown sixteen million dirty Turks in a flood of their own radioactive bathwater.” And it will happen when POTUS and the Turkish president are in Istanbul. Then Turkey will blame Russia and go to war, dragging in NATO. World War III will ensue, and badda-bing-badda-boom, the old crooks will become richer than Croesus by—um, who knows—rebuilding atop the rubble, apparently. Their plan does seem to have a few holes. Cabrillo and crew get wind of the nuclear-tipped torpedo, and of course the clock is ticking. Spectacular fighting scenes ensue, with ex-SEAL Cabrillo displaying tenacity and skill worthy of the best fictional heroes. While the evildoer Hakobyan will “do business with the Devil himself if it turned a profit,” Cabrillo will never do anything against American interests. Even his prosthetic leg deserves honorable mention for its unexpected utility in combat. The name Hellburner occurs twice near the end and is not integral to the storyline, but it makes for a good title.

Like the Oregon itself, this novel is fast-moving, implausible, and fun.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-54064-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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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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