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CLIVE CUSSLER'S HELLBURNER

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

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 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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HOME IS WHERE THE BODIES ARE

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

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Three siblings on very different paths learn that their family home may be haunted by secrets.

Eldest daughter Beth is alone with her fading mother as she takes her final breath and says something about Beth’s long-departed brother and sister, who may not have disappeared forever. Beth is still reeling from the loss of her mother when her estranged siblings show up. Michael, the youngest, hasn’t been home since their father’s disappearance seven years ago. In the meantime, he’s outgrown his siblings, trading his share of the family troubles for a high-paying job in San Jose. Nicole, the middle child, has been overpowered by addiction and prioritized tuning out reality over any sense of responsibility, much to Beth’s disgust. Though their mother’s death marks an ending for the family, it’s also a beginning, as the three siblings realize when they find a disturbing videotape among their parents’ belongings. The video, from 1999, sheds suspicion on their father’s disappearance, linking it to a long-unsolved neighborhood mystery. Was it just a series of unfortunate circumstances that broke the family apart, or does something more sinister underlie the sadness they’ve all found in life? In chapters that rotate among the family’s first-person narratives, the siblings take turns digging up stories and secrets in their search for solace.

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9798212182843

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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THEN SHE WAS GONE

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. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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