Enough to make even dolorous old Detective Beck—Sjöwall and Wahlöö’s iconoclastic monolith—laugh out loud.

READ REVIEW

Spy Subs in Sweden: A Trilogy

MINISUB 83, MINISUB 99, MINISUB 2010

Campbell’s delicious triple-dip spoof of Scandinavian spy fiction is the perfect antidote for intrigue-besotted readers weary of Wallander and done in by dreary, dragon-tattooed girls.

Part geekfest for those obsessed with high-tech submarines and the men who steer them, part espionage yarn, and almost wholly entertaining, Campbell’s three short novels span more than 20 years of Capt. Peterson Smith’s brilliant career in the Royal Swedish Navy. By book’s end, he’s literally out of this world. The handsome son of an American senator and a beautiful Swedish socialite, former U.S. Navy SEAL Smith tackles vicious Borje Borg of Swedish Crime, Inc. and his evil minions in the first novella. There’s advanced weaponry and all manner of aquatic crafts to thrill gearhead readers, plus shadowy Russians who don’t seem to know the Cold War is kaput. In the second book, things turn surreal as Smith battles Dr. Dimitriov—a power-mad (and hilarious) nemesis worthy of Austin Powers—in his underwater headquarters. In the final installment of the trilogy, all attempts at realism fly out the porthole as Smith—now Commodore Smith—confronts a wicked Galactic Wizardress who wants to enslave all mankind as love slaves; in its bizarre, sexed-up silliness, this section recalls Barbarella or certain 1950s, B-grade space-queen soaps. There’s a mission to Mars, some rebellious androids and a HAL-like supercomputer, not to mention a triumphant return to Earth by our hero. Smith is in like Derek Flint—that dashing mid-’60s superspy—but even amid all the danger, he has time to have dinner with his aging mother (a running gag), snuggle with his wife and teach his adorable children about “Hope” and the social contract theory. It’s all seriously silly, but it works since Campbell fearlessly creates such an expansive universe where—even untold leagues beneath the sea or lost in space a million light years from home—it’s always “blue skies ’n’ clear” in Peterson’s sunny mind. Good (and good humor) always prevails.

Enough to make even dolorous old Detective Beck—Sjöwall and Wahlöö’s iconoclastic monolith—laugh out loud.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1462043804

Page Count: 332

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2014

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This is fast-paced, nonstop fun. Cussler fans will gobble it up.

JOURNEY OF THE PHARAOHS

Rumors of lost Egyptian treasure spark high adventure in this 17th in the NUMA series featuring oceanographer Kurt Austin and his crew (Sea of Greed, 2018, etc.).

Over 3,000 years ago, grave robbers sail away with loot from a pharaoh’s tomb. In 1927, Jake Melbourne and his plane disappear in his attempt at a trans-Atlantic flight. In the present day, arms merchants known as the Bloodstone Group have taken to stealing antiquities. They are looking for a “treasure both vast and glorious” that hieroglyphics say was shipped down the Nile and out of Egypt, perhaps even west across the Atlantic. (Holy scurvy! That must’ve been a lot of hard rowing!) The criminals are known to MI5 as “very dangerous people" and "merchants selling death.” Perfectly willing to kill everyone in their way, they are aided by mechanical crows and Fydor and Xandra, nasty sibling assassins jointly called the Toymaker. Such are the foes faced by Austin and his team from the National Underwater and Marine Agency. Of course, Austin has no interest in profit; he will gladly leave the ancient riches wherever they are. Action arrives early and often, and the failed pre-Lindbergh flight fits in neatly. Cussler and Brown concoct a nifty plot with disparate, sometimes over-the-top twists that will make even hardcore adventure fans say “Wow!” Expect claustrophobic gunfights, aerial combat, a life-threatening flood, messages from the dead, coffins of gold—and a vintage classic car, because why not? “We’re going to steal the greatest deposit of Egyptian treasure the world has ever known,” brags the evil mastermind. But he’ll have to climb over the series hero’s dead body first, which—no plot spoiler here—ain’t gonna happen.

This is fast-paced, nonstop fun. Cussler fans will gobble it up.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-08308-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

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. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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