An unusual, if initially slow-going, story that offers a pairing that’s as creative as it is unexpected.

READ REVIEW

Albatross

ABOUT QUANTUM PHYSICS, HUMAN BEINGS, AND OTHER STRANGE THINGS . . .

MacAvoy (Tea with the Black Dragon, 2014, etc.) and debut author Palmer offer a novel about a fugitive physicist and a renegade investigator who helps him.

As the story opens, Dr. Rob MacAulay is about to begin a job as a gardener at the Royal Dornoch Links golf course in Scotland. What is a man with doctorates in mathematics and quantum field physics doing in such a position? It turns out that he’s wanted by the “National Crime Agency: Anti-Terrorism Division,” but he’s an unlikely fugitive. The novel doesn’t present the circumstances of his alleged crime outright, but readers will guess from his gentle demeanor that he could hardly be guilty. Meanwhile, an American, Thomas Heddiman, provides special investigative assistance to the police in Edinburgh. He’s estranged from his famous, wealthy family, and although his last name causes his co-workers to whisper, his great work speaks for itself: he’s “broken three wide-spread financial hackings and one cyber bank job,” and is, without a doubt, an investigational and technological wizard. After a stranger tries to shoot him, though, he wonders why someone wants him dead. And after a bombing in London’s Piccadilly Circus, not even a man as shrewd as Thomas can say what the future holds. The authors then lead readers on a journey that becomes bizarre, to say the least. As Rob’s and Thomas’ paths cross, their destinies inevitably linked, the narrative shifts from being an ordinary man-on-the-run escapade to one that’s fantastical, spooky, and ultimately romantic. However, the story is slowed at first by a plethora of overexplanation; for example, does the reader really need to know the subtleties of Rob’s work at Royal Dornoch? Still, those who sympathize with the birdlike Rob will likely find themselves committed to seeing where his twisty adventure takes him. Even readers as intelligent as the story’s leads may not be prepared for its conclusion.  

An unusual, if initially slow-going, story that offers a pairing that’s as creative as it is unexpected.

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2016

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 274

Publisher: Shanachie Press

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

more