While depicting the realizations of a recovering alcoholic, Rosch skillfully renders a unique story of a missing woman.

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My Dead Friend Sarah: A Novel

A woman’s mysterious disappearance, which was foreseen by a recovering alcoholic, makes for a gripping story.

Rosch’s novel revolves around Max’s dream, in which a woman whom he has never met is kidnapped and dies. It isn’t until he recognizes the woman on the streets of New York that he’s certain he’s had a premonition. After reporting his reoccurring dream to the police, who don’t take him seriously, Max decides he must befriend the woman and warn her. He stalks Sarah, a depressed, perhaps even suicidal, event planner, meeting her after Sarah makes the first move.  He blows off his sponsor, Sam, a man with 10 years in recovery who likes to bed young, female AA-newbies. He also lies to his wife, Rachel, who stood by him when he bottomed out, in order to learn more about Sarah—to find out how to gain her trust in order to protect her. Realizing the damage he’s doing to his marriage, Max ends things with Sarah without warning. Sarah’s heartbroken, in denial, and in love with a man she knows stalked her. When Sarah disappears, Max is the first person the police suspect. Sarah says, “Max, I’ve never met someone so sure of their abilities to manipulate the world, and frankly you stink at it,” perfectly summing up the dilemma most addicts face—the desire to be in control of their world while dependent upon a substance or person that makes it entirely impossible to maintain control. As the story progresses, Rosch expertly explores the psychology of an alcoholic and the pillars behind AA, giving Max’s statements credibility while planting the seeds of doubt as to his trustworthiness. The novel tackles sobriety, truth and guilt, engrossing the reader in Max’s whirlwind of problems.  Despite the support of his friends and family, Max questions whether getting drunk might enable him to better cope. Max’s unlikable attributes, including his mistaken assertions, are only off-putting at times; on the whole he’s a well-developed, layered character.

While depicting the realizations of a recovering alcoholic, Rosch skillfully renders a unique story of a missing woman.

Pub Date: April 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1475198232

Page Count: 228

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2012

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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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Engaging and deftly paced, another thoughtfully entertaining summer read from Silva.

THE ORDER

A legendary spy takes a vacation—or tries to, anyway—in Silva’s 20th Gabriel Allon novel.

Gabriel is trying to enjoy some rest and relaxation with his family in Venice when he learns that an old friend has died. As it happens, this old friend was Pope Paul VII, and it’s not long before Allon is summoned by the pontiff’s personal secretary. Archbishop Luigi Donati has reason to believe that the Holy Father did not die a natural death. For each of the past several summers, Silva has delivered a thriller that seems to be ripped from the headlines. This latest book feels, at first, like something of a throwback. Palace intrigue at the Vatican might seem quaint compared to Islamist extremism or Russia’s rise as an international influence, but Silva makes it relevant and compelling. Allon discovers that the most likely culprits in the death of the pope are connected to far-right leaders throughout Europe, and the rediscovery of a lost Gospel sheds new light on Christian anti-Semitism. The villains here are Catholic traditionalists—Silva’s imaginary Paul VII looks a lot like the real-life Francis I—and “populist” politicians who appeal to nativist, anti-globalist sympathies. As Silva looks at European contempt for a new wave of immigrants from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, he finds a model for this xenophobia in ancient hatred of the Jewish people, an antipathy that has its roots in the New Testament. He interjects a few Bible studies lessons and offers a bit of history as background; these passages add depth without impeding the forward momentum of the plot. Readers familiar with this series may notice the evolution of a motif introduced a few novels ago: In the world of Gabriel Allon, the United States has receded from relevance on the world stage.

Engaging and deftly paced, another thoughtfully entertaining summer read from Silva.

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-283484-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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