Mid-grade mystery buffed to a high gloss. Like it or not, Parker has made male posturing into an art form.

BACK STORY

Though Pearl the Wonder Dog has died, she’s promptly replaced by Pearl II in the most resonant image of Parker’s attitude toward her aging, ageless owner in his 30th appearance.

What a guy that Spenser is. For a retainer of half a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts—two of them consumed on the spot by his old friend, playwright Paul Giacomin (Pastime, 1991), and his friend, actress Daryl Silver—he agrees to look again into the death of Daryl’s mother, Emily Gordon, who was shot down when a revolutionary group calling itself the Dread Scott Brigade robbed the Audubon Circle branch of the Old Shawmut Bank. The main problems facing Spenser are that (1) the fatal bank robbery took place way back in 1974, in a hazy world few people remember and even fewer want to; (2) the FBI report on the robbery and the Dread Scott Brigade has vanished with nary a trace of accidental misfiling; and (3) a Boston strongman named Sonny Karnofsky sends goons with guns to Spenser’s place to make it clear that he wants Spenser to let sleeping dogs lie, though not why that’s what he’d prefer. Of course, Spenser’s made plenty of enemies in his 30-year career (Widow’s Walk, 2002, etc.), but it’s rare that a single case has estranged the mob, the Feebees, and his own client, who’s so stung by the less-than-edifying revelations he digs up about her parents that she demands he shut down the investigation and stalks out of his office. Now if only Sonny Karnofsky and Co. believed he was really quitting. But Spenser is not without the usual resources: his backup/buddy Hawk, his kill-who-you-need-to bedtime shrink Susan, and his bulldog certainty that you can’t let go just because everybody around you tells you to.

Mid-grade mystery buffed to a high gloss. Like it or not, Parker has made male posturing into an art form.

Pub Date: March 10, 2003

ISBN: 0-399-14977-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003

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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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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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