by Raymond Fleischmann ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 7, 2020
A historical thriller minus the history.
An Alaska woman is drawn into the web of a murderer when he promises to explain her twin sister’s disappearance in Fleischmann’s debut novel.
It's 1941. Elisabeth Pfautz has moved from Lititz, Pennsylvania, the small German immigrant community of her childhood, to Alaska, where her husband, John, has accepted a job teaching children of the Athabaskan tribe. At first Elisabeth, John, and their precocious 11-year-old daughter, Margaret, adjust well to life in the village of Tanacross. But when Alfred, a substitute mail pilot, flies in, Elisabeth can’t quite identify the root of his strangeness. It’s not just that he once flew missions for the kaiser, claims to have seen spaceships, and picks a very bad time to extol their common German heritage. In periodic dreams, Elisabeth relives the year 1921, when she and her twin sister, Jacqueline, were 11. Jacqueline was obsessed with a man named Jacob, another German Great War veteran, who wrote her letters and gave her an ornate dagger. Then one day, Jacqueline disappeared, and so did Jacob. Now Alfred, the mail pilot, tells Elisbaeth that he holds the key to her sister's disappearance and will disclose her whereabouts—for a price. Alfred murders an Athabaskan man, apparently in cold blood, and is sent to prison in Fairbanks. Through letters and prison visits that arouse John’s ire, Elisabeth is given tasks by Alfred that are increasingly intrusive and risky. Soon she is forced into a stark choice between protecting her current family and reclaiming her past. This is a page-turner, keeping us glued to Elisabeth’s struggles as she tries to turn the manipulations of a psychopath to her own ends. But if it weren't for technological advances that might have obviated its premise, this book could have been set in the present. The World War II milieu is glancingly and unconvincingly evoked. The language, particularly the dialogue, does not even attempt the parlance of the day; instead, it is replete with anachronisms like “You’re venting,” "Give me the bottom line,” and "I am here for you,” to cite only a few. However, the Alaskan setting is vividly detailed.A historical thriller minus the history.
Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020
Page Count: 320
Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019
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by Max Brooks ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 16, 2020
A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
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
Page Count: 304
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine
Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020
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BOOK TO SCREEN
by Kathy Reichs ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2020
Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.
Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.
A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.
Pub Date: March 17, 2020
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020
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