by Robert Littell ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 20, 1997
An aging KGB agent and a seen-it-all Gulf War vet join forces to thwart a ring of freelance assassins in this quirky Cold War thriller. Finn, a balloonist on the fly from the consequences of a bar brawl in Seattle, sets down on the tiny Suma Apache reservation in New Mexico to find that the locals' casino has been paying serious protection money to the Mafia. Finn also finds himself falling in love with the elderly headman's young wife, Shenandoah. While he's trying to overcome her resistance, he resolves to do what he can to help her people—and that means getting their Sicilian partners off their backs. But the shakedown artists aren't the Mafia after all, as Finn learns when his appointment to brief an FBI agent on the deaths of earlier Suma complainants almost leads to his getting killed himself. Instead, as Finn works it out with the help of Parsifal, the false defector who's actually a KGB agent sent to assassinate him, Parsifal himself has executed them all at the behest of the higher-ups who reactivated him four years after glasnost buried his deep-cover placement even deeper. But why does the KGB want to milk a lowly Apache casino and kill those who make a stink about the profit-sharing? The beautifully simple answer is that they don't: Sometime between the fall of the USSR and the raising of the casino, rogue operatives tapped into Parsifal's chain of command, and they're now running him as a wetwork specialist who thinks his jobs are being authorized by Mother Russia. So instead of killing Finn, Parsifal uses his help to puzzle out what went wrong, and at whose instance. Even though the answers aren't as elegant or original as the questions, Littell (The Visiting Professor, 1994, etc.) delivers the goods with understated ingenuity and his hallmark tenderness- -a commodity even rarer in spy fiction than merited trust. (First printing of 50,000; $40,000 ad/promo)
Pub Date: June 20, 1997
Page Count: 218
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1997
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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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