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REACT: CIA BLACK OPS

A preposterous premise—that one man conducted nearly two dozen high-profile black ops—and loads of juicy technical detail:...

Moore (The Accidental Pope, 2001, etc.) and co-author Lightfoot offer a sort of Robocop of Black Ops, a composite character who describes in gory detail his starring role in most of the nefarious political assassinations and covert counterterrorism activities of the past 30 years.

The action begins in June 1990, when the operative code-named Nimrod is ordered to report to Dobbins Air Force Base, where he is met by covert operatives from Joint Intelligence National Security Agency (NSA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and CIA, and a mysterious spook known as Mr. Muir. Nimrod’s mission: Go into China near the north Vietnamese border to check on a cache of four SADMs (Special Atomic Demolition Munitions) he had placed there on a 1971 covert mission. One is suspected missing, possibly sold to Saddam Hussein by a member of the earlier mission. Once Nimrod finds the nukes, he’s to recover them or “blow them in place.” Nimrod was recruited by the CIA as a high school student, one of 26 young men chosen in 1966 for REACT, a newly formed unacknowledged stand-alone Black Ops cell within the CIA’s Covert Operations Section “accountable only to itself.” Nimrod is trained to kill, then sent to Vietnam, where he assassinates a Cambodian-Vietnamese warlord and a black-marketeer. In 1969, after Nixon plays the China card, Nimrod spends three months learning Chinese assassination techniques. From then on, he pops up everywhere: smuggling cutting-edge heroin technology from China to Colombia to set up a heroin trade that will serve as a CIA slush fund, then focusing on “Direct Actions”—the assassinations of a who’s-who of real-life figures, including Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, Egypt’s Sadat, four Arab terrorists suspected of bombing the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, and others in counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan, Beirut, and Iraq. In the end, when dispatched to assassinate Saddam, Nimrod finds himself the target.

A preposterous premise—that one man conducted nearly two dozen high-profile black ops—and loads of juicy technical detail: for the Soldier of Fortune crowd.

Pub Date: July 1, 2004

ISBN: 1-59228-452-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Lyons Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2004

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DEVOLUTION

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

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  • 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

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

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

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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