A functional Vietnam-era thriller.

PRAIRIE FIRE

A TOP SECRET PRESIDENTIAL NOVEL

In this sequel, two American operatives discover an assassination plot.

Hawk and Cowboy, a pair of veteran snipers and best friends who recently served in Vietnam, are now working special missions for none other than the president of the United States. After tangling with some drug dealers in Mexico, the guys are back in Southeast Asia—in Laos, specifically, though they may have to sneak across borders. After an attempted jungle incursion leads to an ambush, Hawk suspects that they were set up, but by whom? The covert operations in which they are involved are all but anonymous: “No one in Laos kept any type of identification on them, so they had been given the collective ID of MACV-SOG team one. No names. They took turns being number one and number two. No one went by their right name in Laos.” They find out that their presence in the area is seen as a threat to the heroin trade operating out of the so-called “Golden Triangle,” in which the CIA is heavily involved. While on an assassination mission, Hawk and Cowboy uncover a plan to eliminate the top CIA official in the region—a scheme to be carried out by an elite Cuban sniper who has come to Asia to kill Americans. With the help of an old friend from their Mexican adventures named Liz, Hawk and Cowboy seek to protect U.S. interests, but they may have finally met their match in the form of this mysterious Cuban sniper. Shellenbergar’s (Recover and Terminate, 2018) prose is muscular and exact, demonstrating a persuasive grasp of the particulars of military life and jungle operations. He is adept at writing combat scenes without losing readers in all the commotion: “When the grenades blew and the wounded started yelling, a lone NVA came running from the jungle toward Hawk, his SKS level and firing. He was missing each shot as he ran toward Hawk. The enemy’s bayonet was pointed at Hawk’s chest.” The characters are a bit clichéd and the plot is more than a little ridiculous, but the author has managed to vividly reproduce the tone and set pieces of a 1980s action movie in novel form.

A functional Vietnam-era thriller.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 286

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2018

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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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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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