A riveting, energetic sequel with lead characters worth rooting for.

BLOODY SOIL

A KOLYA PETROV THRILLER

A U.S. agent takes on a dangerous undercover assignment to dismantle a neo-Nazi group in this third installment of a thriller series.

Kolya Petrov suffers from PTSD after the torture he endured just a year ago. But he’s more than ready when the Executive Covert Agency hands him his latest mission. Kolya, a Russian Jewish immigrant, may even have a personal reason to take down German-based white supremacists. He heads overseas and cozies up to their apparent leader, Frederick Bauer, who’s got his sights set on the Jewish director of an organization outing local Nazis. Kolya, struggling to maintain his covert identity, also faces an unforeseen threat. Bauer’s girlfriend, Lisette Vogel, has her own lethal agenda. She’s secretly hunting the wolf-tattooed neo-Nazi who killed her beloved father. She’s dispatched murderous men along the way, and as she suspects Kolya to be another killer Nazi, he may soon wind up on her hit list. But with Bauer suspecting a traitor to the “cause,” neither Kolya nor Lisette is safe, and both are determined to expose the diabolical plan Bauer’s group has brewing in Manning’s (Nerve Attack, 2021, etc.) tale in which the action rarely lets up. Kolya and Lisette face relentless peril, as naturally distrustful Bauer questions any number of things they do or say. While the neo-Nazis are indisputable villains, other characters have layered personalities; Lisette has flashes of guilt, even when knocking off killers, and Kolya’s cherished fiancee takes up residence in his mind. The author sets an impressive pace, driving the plot forward while slyly reminding readers of Kolya’s rotating identities and dropping subtle nods to earlier series events. In the end, this narrative makes it clear that Nazis, not Germans, are evil. Certain members of that hateful batch, for one, hail from other countries, while Manning showcases the beauty of Germany by often lingering on its historically rich cities and towns.

A riveting, energetic sequel with lead characters worth rooting for.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64599-404-6

Page Count: 366

Publisher: Encircle Publications, LLC

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2022

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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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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