A gleefully convoluted tapestry of subplots that will have conspiracy theorists reading it a second time.

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Warmth

An Aussie gets caught up in a global conspiracy after he becomes a suspect in a political assassination in Wolfson’s debut dystopian thriller.

John Frankston is a political adviser at Australia’s Parliament House in 2027, after rising oceans led to the devastating Great Global Flood. When John stumbles upon the cryptic email of his friend, politician Frank Tsoukalos, he’s apparently seen too much. Soon, Frank is dead, and John’s on the run, accused of murder. He’s quickly captured by tERROR (“The Earth’s Representatives for Revegetation, Order and Restoration”), an ecoterrorist faction responsible for worldwide assassinations and bombings. But tERROR leader Jenny Fitzgerald tells John that he should truly fear a powerful, secret organization called Them, which may have ties to Clive, a Canadian whose accurate predictions of global catastrophes ignited a new, immensely popular religion, Delugion. John teams up with armed tERROR members, including former Israeli Defence Force officer Karen Blackstone. Despite this fact, however, the book contains very little action. There aren’t, for example, any significant gunfights or massive car chase sequences. What the book does have, though, is an endlessly enjoyable conspiracy. There’s a good deal of back story: Karen, along with a man named James Thomas, were discredited as scientists by Them, and there may be more to a Paris bombing for which Jenny is allegedly responsible. There’s also elucidation from political figures who may be involved with Them, which sheds light on the group’s origins. Wolfson augments his plot with intrigue, including distrust within tERROR and a mysterious man called The Guest, who seems to be spearheading Them. There are so many secrets among the characters that Wolfson easily avoids the soapbox by presenting immoral followers of both religion and science. The final act has enough twists to leave many readers dizzy. Despite John’s hasty assertion that “The pieces were starting to fall together,” only some of them do, leaving at least a couple of issues unanswered for a possible sequel.

A gleefully convoluted tapestry of subplots that will have conspiracy theorists reading it a second time.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2015

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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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