An intriguing, well-constructed thriller about a tech whiz on a journey of discovery.

INTO THE LIGHTNING GATE

A 20-something San Franciscan finds himself at the heart of cosmic drama in Roth’s SF series starter.

As the story opens, Cameron Maddock, a 26-year-old tech consultant, is talking with his ultrasophisticated, custom-designed artificial intelligence, Ego, about his day’s schedule. Most of the day will be devoted to a quick job that involves bluffing his way into the headquarters of the biotech company Bridgespan and hacking into the heart of their information network as a test of the company’s security. Cam, who’s always had “a mind for problem-solving,” is gifted at this kind of high-tech work—much to the chagrin of Bridgespan’s CTO, who hired him, and the company’s head of network security. After celebrating his successful job with his best friend, Tony Zhang, Cam proceeds the next day to his private workshop only to be alerted by Ego to the presence of two armed intruders back at his apartment—and their enigmatic “Boss,” a man named Tomás Aguilar, who seems unnervingly aware of Cam’s every move and is after him for unknown reasons. Even after Cam displays some unexpected combat skills—suddenly, he’s like “a video game character come to life”—the Boss is indefatigable in his pursuit, and Cam is soon propelled into a chase adventure that brings him in contact with a broader world than he’d ever imagined—one that involves alternate dimensions and the Gates between them. Over the course of this novel, Roth takes readers through all of this at a brisk pace and with a sense of momentum that keeps the pages turning. There are occasional rhetorical oddities along the way that can be a bit distracting; for example, the narration inconsistently refers to singular characters by plural pronouns, which can be particularly confusing in group action sequences. But the story presents a steady barrage of revelations that upend Cam’s life with a skill and a jumpy sense of humor that make the protagonist a fun character to root for. Readers will welcome the possibility of going on future adventures with him.

An intriguing, well-constructed thriller about a tech whiz on a journey of discovery.

Pub Date: June 7, 2021

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 399

Publisher: Jetspace Studio

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 62

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 41

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

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?

more