A paranoid thriller for true conspiracy theorists.

THE VOICE

An intrepid journalist unlocks the ancient roots of modern-day evil in this London-set conspiracy thriller.

American journalist Paul Fitzgerald is haunted by vivid dreams of the Crusades. Are they mere fantasy or could they be portals into the past? What’s clear is that they have something to do with media titan Lord De Clare, a mix of Lex Luthor and Rupert Murdoch, whose monolithic company, Transitron, is making progress in virtual-reality technology that could transform the nature of human existence forever—if De Clare can get his hands on Paul’s latest manuscript, that is. Aided by helpful dwarf Juicy John Pink, crackpot astrologer Mary Underhill and ministry student Simon, Paul embarks on a spiritual odyssey that takes him from IRA-bombed London subways to 12th-century Jerusalem. Along the way, he unearths enough conspiracies to supply a dozen Da Vinci Codes when he discovers the slender threads that link Western imperialism, Celtic mythology, the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, the quest for the Holy Grail and quantum theory. And don’t forget numerology: “The Great flood began on the 17th day of the 7th month. The name of God has 17 letters and at the end of time 17 prophets will be born, each bearing one letter of his name. That’s 1 and 17.” If the import of such passages is lost on some readers, the authors have appended an 18-page section of “Additional Notes” to clear things up; they supply more detail on “the Dagda,” “the Monad” and “the quantum nature of existence” for those who want it. Such overabundance is characteristic of the novel, which will not suit audiences looking for the simple pleasures of a page-turner. Although the authors are successful at evoking a modern world at the brink—ruled by corporations and torn apart by religious violence—they struggle with creating flesh-and-blood characters. If Paul’s odyssey is also a personal one, it is not always apparent from dialogue that often reads like revisionist history. The novel’s saving grace is a brisk plot that keeps moving—sometimes even past the point of coherence (according to the authors’ introduction, the story began as a script for Oliver Stone). As Simon says, “This thing is science, mythology, UFOs, religion and national security rolled into one.”

A paranoid thriller for true conspiracy theorists.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-1439212011

Page Count: 250

Publisher: BookSurge

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2012

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King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

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THE INSTITUTE

The master of modern horror returns with a loose-knit parapsychological thriller that touches on territory previously explored in Firestarter and Carrie.

Tim Jamieson is a man emphatically not in a hurry. As King’s (The Outsider, 2018, etc.) latest opens, he’s bargaining with a flight attendant to sell his seat on an overbooked run from Tampa to New York. His pockets full, he sticks out his thumb and winds up in the backwater South Carolina town of DuPray (should we hear echoes of “pray”? Or “depraved”?). Turns out he’s a decorated cop, good at his job and at reading others (“You ought to go see Doc Roper,” he tells a local. “There are pills that will brighten your attitude”). Shift the scene to Minneapolis, where young Luke Ellis, precociously brilliant, has been kidnapped by a crack extraction team, his parents brutally murdered so that it looks as if he did it. Luke is spirited off to Maine—this is King, so it’s got to be Maine—and a secret shadow-government lab where similarly conscripted paranormally blessed kids, psychokinetic and telepathic, are made to endure the Skinnerian pain-and-reward methods of the evil Mrs. Sigsby. How to bring the stories of Tim and Luke together? King has never minded detours into the unlikely, but for this one, disbelief must be extra-willingly suspended. In the end, their forces joined, the two and their redneck allies battle the sophisticated secret agents of The Institute in a bloodbath of flying bullets and beams of mental energy (“You’re in the south now, Annie had told these gunned-up interlopers. She had an idea they were about to find out just how true that was"). It’s not King at his best, but he plays on current themes of conspiracy theory, child abuse, the occult, and Deep State malevolence while getting in digs at the current occupant of the White House, to say nothing of shadowy evil masterminds with lisps.

King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9821-1056-7

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Real events like the Vietnam draft and Stonewall uprising enter the characters' family history as well as a stunning plot...

THE RULES OF MAGIC

The Owens sisters are back—not in their previous guise as elderly aunties casting spells in Hoffman’s occult romance Practical Magic (1995), but as fledgling witches in the New York City captured in Patti Smith's memoir Just Kids.

In that magical, mystical milieu, Franny and Bridget are joined by a new character: their foxy younger brother, Vincent, whose “unearthly” charm sends grown women in search of love potions. Heading into the summer of 1960, the three Owens siblings are ever more conscious of their family's quirkiness—and not just the incidents of levitation and gift for reading each other's thoughts while traipsing home to their parents' funky Manhattan town house. The instant Franny turns 17, they are all shipped off to spend the summer with their mother's aunt in Massachusetts. Isabelle Owens might enlist them for esoteric projects like making black soap or picking herbs to cure a neighbor's jealousy, but she at least offers respite from their fretful mother's strict rules against going shoeless, bringing home stray birds, wandering into Greenwich Village, or falling in love. In short order, the siblings meet a know-it-all Boston cousin, April, who brings them up to speed on the curse set in motion by their Salem-witch ancestor, Maria Owens. It spells certain death for males who attempt to woo an Owens woman. Naturally this knowledge does not deter the current generation from circumventing the rule—Bridget most passionately, Franny most rationally, and Vincent most recklessly (believing his gender may protect him). In time, the sisters ignore their mother's plea and move to Greenwich Village, setting up an apothecary, while their rock-star brother, who glimpsed his future in Isabelle’s nifty three-way mirror, breaks hearts like there's no tomorrow. No one's more confident or entertaining than Hoffman at putting across characters willing to tempt fate for true love.

Real events like the Vietnam draft and Stonewall uprising enter the characters' family history as well as a stunning plot twist—delivering everything fans of a much-loved book could hope for in a prequel.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3747-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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