Another gripping thriller from a writer who continues to impress.

THE CIRCLE-A KILLINGS

The world’s richest people are being systematically murdered, and an anarchist movement may—or may not—be to blame in this thriller sequel.

In Heary’s The Concordat (2018), Enzo Rossi, the head of the Vatican’s police force, was in Moscow on a mission to track down a rogue historical document. Now Rossi is trying to take things a little easier. He’s accepted a post as a visiting academic at the University of Cambridge in England and is enjoying the serenity of academic life, but the peace, inevitably, doesn’t last for long. He takes time out to join a pheasant-shooting party at the estate of a local aristocrat, but his impressive display of marksmanship is quickly overshadowed by that of a sniper, who murders a brash Russian new-money billionaire. The killer escapes, but he leaves behind “his calling card—a circle-A monogram and #27 spray painted in red,” the dead billionaire’s ranking on the Forbes “Rich List.” It’s just the latest in a series of big-money assassinations. Rossi is drawn into the investigation and finds himself reunited with CIA agent Cathy Doherty, who’s gone undercover as a student in order to infiltrate the inner circle of the Cambridge Experientialists, a secret society that’s suspected in the anti-capitalist killing spree. When Rossi’s and Doherty’s friends, colleagues, and suspects start dying at an alarming rate, though, it begins to look like they may be following a false trail. Although The Concordat delved deeply into the past, this series installment stays more grounded in the present. The tone is a little different in this sequel, as well—less Robert Harris and more John Buchan—although Heary’s writing is, again, first rate, blending suspense, romantic tension, and dry humor in a complex and absorbing narrative. The sinister villains’ efforts to destabilize the world order, and particularly the European Union, are front and center, but the overall plot is quite a tangle, and it will require a lot of patience on the reader’s part. The ethics of the characters are sometimes questionable, as well, as Rossi himself acknowledges.

Another gripping thriller from a writer who continues to impress.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 374

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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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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Delightfully readable fiction, but the mystery disappoints.

THE IT GIRL

Ten years after having discovered her Oxford roommate’s dead body in front of the fireplace in their room, a young woman struggles with the realization that she may have helped send the wrong man to prison.

Hannah Jones arrives at Oxford hardly believing that she’s been accepted into this haven of learning and wealth. Sharing a picturesque set of rooms with the flamboyant and beautiful April Clarke-Cliveden, she divides her time between rigorous studying and energetic socializing with Emily Lippmana, Ryan Coates, Hugh Bland, and Will de Chastaigne, with whom she shares an attraction even though he's April’s boyfriend. It’s a good life except for the increasingly creepy interactions she has with John Neville, one of the porters. When Hannah finds April dead one night just after she’s seen Neville coming down the stairs from their rooms, it’s her testimony that puts him in jail. Ware divides the novel into alternating “before” and “after” chapters, with the narrative of Hannah’s college experience unfolding parallel to the events of her life nearly a decade later, when she’s married to Will and pregnant with their first child. Then Neville dies in prison and Hannah hears from a reporter who thinks he might actually have been innocent. Hannah begins to wonder herself, and she plunges back into the past to see if she can figure out what really happened that night. As usual with Ware, the novel is well crafted—the setting, characters, and dialogue are all engaging—but it lacks the author's signature sense of urgent and imminent threat. The novel unfolds smoothly, providing a few twists and turns, as the reader might expect, but not really delivering any true suspense. It also lacks the contrast between a luxurious background and the characters’ fears that Ware has often played to great effect. She does offer a deeper dive into the trauma of the survivors than she usually does, but this isn't the breathless page-turner one has come to expect from Ware.

Delightfully readable fiction, but the mystery disappoints.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-9821-5526-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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