Dynamic characters and ambiance help this tale showcase Trinidadian culture.

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The Obeahman's Dagger

In this debut thriller, a journalist follows leads the police ignore to learn the fate of women who have vanished during the Trinidadian Carnival.

David Chelmsford is a journalist for the newspaper the Independent in Trinidad. It’s not the career in law enforcement that his father, Inspector Franklin Chelmsford, wanted for him, but David loves it nevertheless. One day, a colleague gives him a folder filled with articles about women who have disappeared during J’ouvert, or the two-day Carnival. E.H. Watson, the previous journalist to investigate these vanishings, suggested that a serial kidnapper was responsible. Against the admonishing of Franklin—who insists that the police have always done their best to investigate the cases—David decides to explore the clues. He’s been assigned some soft reportage, to write an article about tourists at Carnival. To that end, he and photographer George Fonclaire visit a hotel and meet Belle Ferguson. She’s in Trinidad to drum up ideas for her graduate thesis on the cultures that influence Carnival. David suggests they see some stickfighting, a martial art in which an obeahman (or priest) will “mount” a spirit onto the combatant’s stick. As it turns out, Belle, already a student of the Yin Shou Gun Shaolin fighting style, has come to the attention of a few devious onlookers. In his atmospheric and culturally layered debut, Daniel initially offers readers a grounded mystery. His small cast of characters lives brightly through focused sketches, like Elaine Chelmsford, who is always cooking, or her inspector husband, who explains that being a police officer is “not a job; it’s a state of mind.” Later, the author blurs the line between dreams and reality, introducing an enchanted ceremonial dagger; “the protector of foolish old men,” Mami Wata; and the idea that dreams are products of the imagination but also subject to infestation by “departed souls who are...confused, lost.” Though the author provides too few suspected villains to make this a propulsive whodunit, the eerie finale is as welcome as it is unexpected.

Dynamic characters and ambiance help this tale showcase Trinidadian culture.

Pub Date: July 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5143-9754-1

Page Count: 286

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2016

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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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