The protagonist’s second run-in with conspiracy results in more exhilaration; readers will surely welcome a third.

The Omega Covenant

Attorney Mike Marchetti returns to investigate unexplained deaths on a Hawaiian island while an epidemic plagues the U.S. mainland in Holcroft’s (Patriot’s Blood, 2014) latest thriller.

Marchetti’s romantic Kauai getaway with reporter girlfriend Vicki Steele is wrecked when someone attacks the couple. Vicki needs to recuperate, and Marchetti, with his Dallas law partner buying him out, spends his free time tracking down the assailant—possibly related to terrorists whose plans the attorney had previously thwarted. He likewise agrees to help Vicki’s friend Janine Nichols, one of several locals wanting answers regarding suspicious deaths, starting with Janine’s close friend reporter Brad Vaughn, a “super-cautious” driver killed in a car accident. Reteaming with retired detective/private eye Tom Shannon, Marchetti zeroes in on one of Brad’s stories: a false-flag operation. At the same time, deaths in various mainland states, all symptomatically identical, seem to confirm a viral outbreak. As the CDC searches for Ground Zero, some in the White House surmise that the virus is an orchestrated strike against the U.S. Villains, meanwhile, are devising something even more treacherous, set for an upcoming event in Honolulu, which may intersect with Marchetti and Tom’s investigation. The two men make headway on at least one of the cases, inadvertently putting themselves in the path of a very dangerous individual who excels at keeping things quiet via abductions or murder. Holcroft, as in his preceding novel, builds a credible back story for his protagonist. Marchetti, for example, though still only a lawyer, is already invested—find the person(s) who attacked him and Vicki —before Janine asks for a favor. There’s ample coverage for the subplots, including agencies discussing measures to prevent the virus spreading further and retaliation against the culprits they believe are responsible. Most but not all of the baddies are known, and despite making a few avoidable mistakes (for example, mapping out the nefarious plan for a hostage), their scheme is both methodical and brilliant. Marchetti, a former Marine, once again winds up immersed in action before it’s over, while the ending takes a surprising turn and closes with a lingering uneasiness.

The protagonist’s second run-in with conspiracy results in more exhilaration; readers will surely welcome a third.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5370-5858-0

Page Count: 366

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2016

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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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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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