Lasser’s setting ranges from the dingy ’hood to the ritzy ’burbs, so by the end we get to know the city almost as intimately...

SAY NICE THINGS ABOUT DETROIT

David Halpert returns to his native city and finds a new life and a modicum of happiness, but along the way he also confronts heartbreak and loss.

Owing to the insistence of his father, Halpert moves from Denver back to Detroit. At first he comes to help his father take care of his increasingly dementia-tormented mother, but he’s also dealing with the loss of his son Cory four years before and the subsequent breakup of his marriage. Even though in the back of his mind Halpert feels that “only the demented move to Detroit,” he finds that Motor City is in his blood, for it’s always been the locus of his childhood, friends and family. Although Halpert finds work as a lawyer, dealing primarily in wills and trusts, Lasser is far more interested in Halpert’s personal life. Halpert discovers that Natalie, a girl he had dated in high school, and her half-brother Dirk had both been murdered just a few days before he arrived home. Lasser presents extended flashbacks in which we get to know Natalie and Dirk, and because they have the same mother but fathers of different races, Lasser also uses the two siblings to confront racial issues. Dirk’s a straight arrow, an FBI agent involved in undercover drug work, and he serves as a surrogate father to Marlon, son of Dirk’s best friend Everett, who’s dying of cancer. At 13, Marlon smokes weed and definitely could use a moral compass. He’s also mixing with unsavory types who might be involved in the killing of Natalie and Dirk. Halpert hooks up with Carolyn, a sister of the murder victims, who becomes pregnant and decides to leave her husband for Halpert.

Lasser’s setting ranges from the dingy ’hood to the ritzy ’burbs, so by the end we get to know the city almost as intimately as we know the characters.

Pub Date: July 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-393-08299-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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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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