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THICK AS THIEVES

Techno thieves fall out.

Recruited and led by Declan, the kind of happy warrior who makes risk part of the fun, this information-age gang of five has done very well over the years. Larger than life, yes, but smart withal, Declan has an unerring instinct for talent: Bobby and Latin Mike, seasoned and tough, are thoroughly professional; Dennis is on a fast track to the hackers’ hall of fame; slinky Valerie can seduce a statue. And then there’s Carr, with “an engineer’s eye for operations," the last to be recruited. Carr stifles all emotion, as if not to do so were to give an essentially hostile world an unwarranted edge. But this ex-CIA officer can be explosive. He is where he is now—a thief among thieves—because in a temper-tossed moment he punched out someone he absolutely shouldn’t have. And tightly wrapped Carr is surprisingly susceptible. Valerie quickly has him off balance. Success, once almost a given, has now become unsettlingly unpredictable, a situation greatly intensified by the sudden loss of their leader. Carr attempts to fill the vacuum, but with only limited effectiveness. Operations are one kind of thing, he learns, charisma quite another. Sniping develops, smoldering enmities flare up and flicker out, but all recognize that something inimical has sunk roots in their thieves’ den. One last job then, a big one, computer centered and extremely dangerous. Pull it off and they go home rich. Screw it up and maybe they don’t go home at all. Character-driven with a protagonist as enigmatic as he is compelling. But what really sets this apart is the quality of Spiegelman’s writing: “Backlit on the 14th tee, Mr. Boyce is a slab of granite escaped from the quarry, or spare parts from Stonehenge.” It’s not every day genre prose gets that kind of polish (Red Cat, 2007, etc.).  

 

Pub Date: July 26, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-26317-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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DEVOLUTION

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

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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. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE SILENT PATIENT

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

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A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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