An engaging courtroom tale, thanks in large part to its zealous, appealing protagonist.


A young attorney with a personal vendetta goes after a trio of pharmaceutical companies he blames for the opioid epidemic in this legal thriller.

Locals in Jake Rutledge’s hometown of Oakley, West Virginia, call the city Zombieland due to the high number of opioid addicts. After Jake loses his fraternal twin brother, Blake, to an opioid overdose, he wants justice. He plans to file a lawsuit against the three biggest pharmaceutical companies. He believes they were deceitful when claiming opioids are nonaddictive, which ultimately led to Blake’s death and those of thousands more. Jake wisely gets help from two more experienced lawyers, Paul Vogel in West Virginia and Nick “Deke” Deketomis in Florida. As their civil action progresses, Jake independently offers his legal assistance to his high school crush, Anna Fowler. The city is trying to condemn her family’s business, but the fact that her father received no notices is suspicious. Jake’s stepping in on the Fowlers’ behalf may threaten someone’s well-established shady dealings, which, along with the legal battle against “the Big Three,” stirs up even more trouble. Paul and Deke are understandably worried when Jake subsequently disappears, and a drug dealer’s assertion that the missing attorney is a user is blatant character assassination. Though this is the third appearance for Deke in Papantonio’s (Law and Vengeance, 2017, etc.) series, readers may relate more to the modest Jake. While Deke flies in a private jet, his younger counterpart declines coffee “to avoid a dry-cleaning expense.” Jake is also whip-smart and stoical; during separate conversations with a condescending lawyer and a crass sheriff’s deputy, he remains unruffled. The few scenes inside a courtroom aptly display (mostly) Deke’s legal skills as well as the story’s swiftly executed examinations, cross-examinations, and arguments. Unfortunately, there is little tension, as it’s not difficult to see whom the judges favor. They are “clearly unimpressed” by the defense attorneys, with the immensely unlikable Nathan Ailes at the head. But this does preface an ending that’s both unexpected and realistic.

An engaging courtroom tale, thanks in large part to its zealous, appealing protagonist.

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-939116-46-8

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Waterside Productions

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 75

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller


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

Did you like this book?

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?