A functional crime sequel that explores a new setting.

DEACON'S PROMISE

Burgraff (Deacon’s Winter, 2013) takes his crime-fighting deacon out of the streets of Chicago and into the unfamiliar environs of South Africa.

In his role as a member of the secret society of the Gabrians, Deacon Adelius has spent the last two years using his street smarts and military experience to help rid the Archdiocese of Chicago of predatory priests. When he gets a letter from an old friend, however, his attention is drawn to a place far from the shores of Lake Michigan. Mike Thompson is a rough-and-tumble pilot who took a job smuggling what he thought was ivory out of South Africa. The cargo turned out to be heroin, and his bosses turned out to be very serious about theft. “If you are reading this, it means I’m dead,” the letter begins before asking for a favor. “I’ve hidden away some money, and I want you to take my daughter to it. It’s there to secure her future. There is a letter of explanation to her and a few other items. The thing is, old boy, she does not know that I’m her father.” After consulting his South African connections, Deacon sets off for Johannesburg. Thompson’s daughter is Kalina Sangweeni, a multilingual, multiracial woman who works for Hands of Hope Mission under the care of her three surviving “uncles,” or protectors. To help her and her brother find the cash, Deacon will have to race against Thompson’s murderers, who are anxious to recover the money he stole from them. Along the way, he’ll also have to figure whom among this South African circle he can trust…including a red-haired Peruvian woman whom he knows as Ginger Rose. Burgraff’s prose retains its hard-boiled notes while allowing for the novelty of Deacon’s fish-out-of-water experience: “As we approached Capetown, the blazing sunset caressed the vineyards of the Cape. The scene was absolutely stunning to this Chicago boy.” While some readers would have doubtlessly preferred another noirish Chicago tale—Burgraff’s attempts to render the dialects of the various nationalities is a bit awkward—others will enjoy this change of scenery for the gruff, Catholic avenger.

A functional crime sequel that explores a new setting.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4897-1820-4

Page Count: 292

Publisher: LifeRichPublishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2018

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

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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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The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once...

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

In Baldacci’s 19th (True Blue, 2009, etc.), boy and girl monster-hunters meet cute.

Evan Waller, aka Fadir Kuchin, aka “the Butcher of Kiev,” aka “the Ukrainian psychopath,” is one of those deep-dyed villains a certain kind of fiction can’t do without. Serving with distinction as part of the Soviet Union’s KGB, he joyfully and indiscriminately killed thousands. Now, many years later, posing as a successful businessman, he’s vacationing in Provence where, unbeknownst to him, two separate clandestine operations are being mounted by people who do not regard him with favor. Reggie Campion—28 and gorgeous—spearheads the first, an ad hoc group of monster-hunting vigilantes. Studly, tall Shaw (no first name supplied) is point guard for a rival team, shadowy enough to leave the matter of its origin ambiguous. While their respective teams reconnoiter and jockey for position, studly boy meets gorgeous girl. Monster-hunters are famous for having trust issues, but clearly these are drawn to each other in the time-honored Hollywood fashion. Shaw saves Reggie’s life. She returns the favor. The attraction deepens and heats up to the point where team-members on both sides grow unsettled by the loss of focus, singularly inopportune since, as monsters go, Waller rises to the second coming of Caligula—ample testimony furnished by a six-page, unsparingly detailed torture scene. In the end, the stalkers strike, bullets fly, screams curdle the blood, love has its innings and a monster does what a monster’s got to do.

The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once again show the stuff it’s made of.

Pub Date: April 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-446-56408-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Avon A/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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