De Jonge seasons what might have been a routine procedural with a heroine who’s sensitive without being tiresome and a...

BURIED ON AVENUE B

Manhattan South’s Detective Darlene O’Hara (Shadows Still Remain, 2009) scours the eastern seaboard for the truth about a grisly discovery in a community garden.

Home health care aide Paulette Williamson doesn’t expect O’Hara to take her seriously when she reports that her client, veteran junkie Gus Henderson, told her that he murdered his off-again partner Charles Faulk 17 years ago and buried him in the garden at 6th Street and Avenue B. The addled old man clearly isn’t much of a witness, even to his own felonies. But O’Hara persuades her boss to let her dig up the plot Henderson has indicated. Sure enough, they find a corpse, though it’s that of a 9-year-old boy who’s been much more recently interred after he bled out from a bullet wound in his shoulder. Stung by having gratuitously opened a cold case with an unidentified victim and no leads, O’Hara posts the technical specs of the bullet on the national law enforcement database. To her amazement, the Sarasota PD reports a match. Longboat Key resident Benjamin Levin, who forsook the boxing ring 60 years ago to manufacture women’s gloves, reportedly shot himself six months ago with the same .22 rifle. What possible connection could there be between two shooting deaths of victims two generations removed whose remains were discovered 1,200 miles apart? To answer that question, O’Hara will have to team up with a no-nonsense lesbian detective in Sarasota, track down a suspicious van gone missing in South Carolina, search for a pair of distraction burglars who prey on the recently widowed elderly, and interrogate a clutch of gypsies back home.

De Jonge seasons what might have been a routine procedural with a heroine who’s sensitive without being tiresome and a half-dozen nifty surprises.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-137355-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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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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The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once...

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

In Baldacci’s 19th (True Blue, 2009, etc.), boy and girl monster-hunters meet cute.

Evan Waller, aka Fadir Kuchin, aka “the Butcher of Kiev,” aka “the Ukrainian psychopath,” is one of those deep-dyed villains a certain kind of fiction can’t do without. Serving with distinction as part of the Soviet Union’s KGB, he joyfully and indiscriminately killed thousands. Now, many years later, posing as a successful businessman, he’s vacationing in Provence where, unbeknownst to him, two separate clandestine operations are being mounted by people who do not regard him with favor. Reggie Campion—28 and gorgeous—spearheads the first, an ad hoc group of monster-hunting vigilantes. Studly, tall Shaw (no first name supplied) is point guard for a rival team, shadowy enough to leave the matter of its origin ambiguous. While their respective teams reconnoiter and jockey for position, studly boy meets gorgeous girl. Monster-hunters are famous for having trust issues, but clearly these are drawn to each other in the time-honored Hollywood fashion. Shaw saves Reggie’s life. She returns the favor. The attraction deepens and heats up to the point where team-members on both sides grow unsettled by the loss of focus, singularly inopportune since, as monsters go, Waller rises to the second coming of Caligula—ample testimony furnished by a six-page, unsparingly detailed torture scene. In the end, the stalkers strike, bullets fly, screams curdle the blood, love has its innings and a monster does what a monster’s got to do.

The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once again show the stuff it’s made of.

Pub Date: April 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-446-56408-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Avon A/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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