An enjoyable, low-key supernatural tale with invigorating, unpretentious vampires.

EVERYTHING HURTS

An English private eye, with help from his vampire friends, tries to stop a serial killer targeting college girls in Dalzell’s (The Last Dream Before You Die, 2012) latest, the second in a supernatural thriller series.

When a female student dies from a heroin overdose, Detective Constable Brian Nolan calls in West Yorkshire PI Jack Bone. Jack, a former cop, has the resources to find what Nolan believes is a serial killer, since four other girls of similar age and background have died the same way over the last seven years. Plus, Jack has a distinct advantage: He’s pals with a family of the Nosferatu—“immortals from which stem the vampire legends.” While dodging assassination attempts (retribution from his copper days), Jack learns of the Candyman, an urban legend about a man who, with the help of drugs, promises college-age girls the path to “ultimate knowledge.” After the PI seems to save the Candyman’s most recent victim just in time, he may have a witness to lead him to the killer—if Jack can keep her alive long enough. Dalzell’s multigenre novel skillfully fuses action and the supernatural, best exemplified by a set of twins, vampire Mina and human Lucy, who’s also Jack’s intern. Mina fights with an apparently boundless hypnotic ability, while Lucy—an almost-200-year-old immortal whose Nosferatu genes aren’t “switched on”—excels with basic fisticuffs: A thug who stupidly puts his hand on her winds up with a broken jaw and fewer teeth. Despite Jack’s profession, there’s very little in the way of a detective story, as Jack is too dependent on his vampire partners; even Stanislav, who works for Eugenie (Mina and Lucy’s great-grandmother), dispatches gangsters gunning for Jack and does some research for the Candyman case. Still, Jack’s determination is unparalleled, and his casual acceptance of the Nosferatus’ incredible powers makes the paranormal seem practical, maybe even possible. For example, in the book’s best scene, Mina walks Jack through his own honeymoon memory while, in reality, Jack undergoes a particularly painful experience: “I brought you into this simulacrum by hypnosis to let you escape from what we had to do to get you through the narrows,” she tells him. There’s an abundance of references to Dalzell’s previous book, and the author relays plenty for clarification, such as the origin of Jack’s relationship to the vamps, without excessively outlining the entire story.

An enjoyable, low-key supernatural tale with invigorating, unpretentious vampires.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-1497424654

Page Count: 434

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

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

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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

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