PASTOR EVIL

MY CALLING: CONQUER EVIL AT ALL COSTS

A unique first-person narrative about an information technology expert’s gift and his war against unpunished evil.

Author and main character Robert McCabe intriguingly structures his narrative as an ambiguously true story of semimystical dimensions. A retired IT consultant, he gives a brief overview of his life, his marriages and divorce and then reveals that he has a powerful gift—that of punishing evil using his expertise with computers and research as well as his unique intuition for finding evil that has escaped the long but sometimes incompetent arm of the law. In the early ’80s, Robert meets a Michael, a Vietnam veteran with a penchant for random acts of aggression but who also wants to join the seminary. However, Michael has recently lost his position at the local Southern Baptist church. After 25 years, Robert checks up on his old diocese and reads that Michael is now the head honcho after the mysterious deaths of several key people who would have been obstacles in Michael’s path to the top. McCabe the author deftly changes techniques here, relating some of the narrative from Michael’s point of view, and readers learn a great deal about the world that McCabe creates. Michael has been blessed since childhood with masterful telekinetic powers. These powers made him an excellent soldier in Vietnam and he has used them with increasing purpose and brutality in the intervening years. McCabe suspects as much, though isn’t aware of the extent of Michael’s powers. He calls Michael, seemingly just to catch up, and convinces him that he is the man to consult on all that is IT in his new operations, but really McCabe is on the hunt. It’s all quite strange, the blending of author and narrator in a story of such fantastic and bloody dimension, but McCabe, despite his holy charge, struggles with the morality of his quest and the potential consequences of having to kill a friend—which is the perfect moral atmosphere for a novel about justice and ambition. The novel’s ending is unusually satisfying and will lead nicely into the following installments his readers will no doubt be anticipating. An offbeat narrative whose unconventionality will entertain and dismay daring readers.

 

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-1467042796

Page Count: 169

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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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

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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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