An often engaging supernatural thriller with an immortal protagonist with meritorious human traits.

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THE JOURNALS OF BOB DRIFTER

In Weech’s debut supernatural thriller, an empathetic soul collector must stop one of his own from reaping dark souls and committing murder.

Bob Drifter is a typical Arizona substitute teacher—except for the fact that he’s a 338-year-old Journeyman. When a person is near death, Bob can transport his or her soul to the afterlife. He keeps a low profile, but it turns out that police Sgt. Richard Hertly is on the verge of connecting him to a few recent deaths, as witnesses in each case describe a stranger nearby. Richard and his partner, Detective Kyle LeShea, soon link Bob to a hospital death from his fingerprint, and Richard becomes determined to prove that Bob’s a murderer; he even follows Bob when he takes a new job in New York state. Meanwhile, Bob and his fellow Journeymen search for Grimm, a rogue collector who waits for souls to “sour” and become “Blacksouls.” Journeymen don’t have the ability to kill humans, but Grimm, with his Blacksoul-derived power, is dead set on finding a way. The novel is split into three parts that feel like separate short stories, though Bob and the antagonistic Grimm are always at their centers. The first is the most riveting, despite the fact that it has the least amount of action. It introduces Bob as a compassionate man who’s clearly only transporting souls out of necessity; other characters, and the narrative itself, describe the pain he feels when he watches people die. He also tutors a student named David, befriending the boy and his family for reasons that readers will likely surmise. Despite the book’s title, and its narrative device of recurring journal entries, the remaining two parts offer relatively little insight into Bob, instead concentrating on the Journeymen’s frequent, violent encounters with Grimm. That said, the novel does treat readers to laudable characters, such as Bob’s mentor and friend, Drisc. He’s a member of the Council, which tries to establish rules for Journeymen, and holds meetings in a bowling alley. Bob also has a chance at love with a photographer named Patience, and because she’s a mere mortal, the melodramatic possibilities abound. Bob eventually shows a few additional abilities, too; for example, he can “Manipulate” emotions or ease others’ pain. The ending leaves the door open for future sequels.

An often engaging supernatural thriller with an immortal protagonist with meritorious human traits.

Pub Date: March 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1480815940

Page Count: 472

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2015

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A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

THE ANDROMEDA EVOLUTION

Over 50 years after an extraterrestrial microbe wiped out a small Arizona town, something very strange has appeared in the Amazon jungle in Wilson’s follow-up to Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain.

The microparticle's introduction to Earth in 1967 was the disastrous result of an American weapons research program. Before it could be contained, Andromeda killed all but two people in tiny Piedmont, Arizona; during testing after the disaster, AS-1 evolved and escaped into the atmosphere. Project Eternal Vigilance was quickly set up to scan for any possible new outbreaks of Andromeda. Now, an anomaly with “signature peaks” closely resembling the original Andromeda Strain has been spotted in the heart of the Amazon, and a Wildfire Alert is issued. A diverse team is assembled: Nidhi Vedala, an MIT nanotechnology expert born in a Mumbai slum; Harold Odhiambo, a Kenyan xenogeologist; Peng Wu, a Chinese doctor and taikonaut; Sophie Kline, a paraplegic astronaut and nanorobotics expert based on the International Space Station; and, a last-minute addition, roboticist James Stone, son of Dr. Jeremy Stone from The Andromeda Strain. They must journey into the deepest part of the jungle to study and hopefully contain the dire threat that the anomaly seemingly poses to humanity. But the jungle has its own dangers, and it’s not long before distrust and suspicion grip the team. They’ll need to come together to take on what waits for them inside a mysterious structure that may not be of this world. Setting the story over the course of five days, Wilson (Robopocalypse, 2011, etc.) combines the best elements of hard SF novels and techno-thrillers, using recovered video, audio, and interview transcripts to shape the narrative, with his own robotics expertise adding flavor and heft. Despite a bit of acronym overload, this is an atmospheric and often terrifying roller-coaster ride with (literally) sky-high stakes that pays plenty of homage to The Andromeda Strain while also echoing the spirit and mood of Crichton’s other works, such as Jurassic Park and Congo. Add more than a few twists and exciting set pieces (especially in the finale) to the mix, and you’ve got a winner.

A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247327-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS

Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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