Ludlum’s best since his masterpiece of paranoia, The Bourne Identity.

READ REVIEW

THE JANSON DIRECTIVE

Third postmortal novel from the archives of the amazing Ludlum (1927–2001), who clearly took his Toshiba laptop along to that Orient Express in the sky.

This latest shows a far more sober Ludlum than 2001’s madhouse The Sigma Protocol, while even The Paris Option (2002), with coauthor Gayle Lynds, points to a cooling paranoia and twilight lust for description. Here, we get a marvel of stunning physical detail, its sentences geared with lightly oiled precision parts that speed the action forward microincrementally, click by click. A full chapter is given to the midnight air currents a parachutist faces in cloud and fog after he free-falls for four miles into the villain’s den. Legendary Hungarian financier and philanthropist Peter Novak, Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder and director of the Liberty Foundation, which has resolved ten international conflicts around the globe, has been kidnapped by the Kagama Liberation Front on the island of Anura in the Indian Ocean. The KLF plans to behead him on the Sunni holy day commemorating the sacrifice of Abraham. And no ransom will be accepted, since the Caliph masterminding the KLF’s corps of suicide bombers wants greater notoriety. Ludlum died before 9/11, but his plot is hugely prescient, combining Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, and Palestinian martyrs. Liberty Foundation calls in Paul Janson, former Navy SEAL and master nightfighter for Consular Operations (the State Department’s covert branch), who has retired to run his own business. But Liberty Foundation once saved Janson’s life, while a suicide bomber of Caliph’s killed Janson’s pregnant wife. So Janson gathers a trio of supremely capable covert-ops like himself to infiltrate Caliph’s impregnable Stone Palace and rescue Novak. When the mission goes down in horror, sabotaged, Janson vows vengeance, not knowing that he himself is the one who must be destroyed—and by his home team, among others.

Ludlum’s best since his masterpiece of paranoia, The Bourne Identity.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2002

ISBN: 0-312-25348-6

Page Count: 542

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002

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?

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

Did you like this book?

more