Sheldon, a schlockmeister beyond dispraise, handles his tale with stupefying skill. Hardly a simplistic sentence passes by...

ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK?

Laughable and ridiculous suspense but bound for big sales, seeing that Sheldon has already sold 300 million copies of his 17 earlier novels and has written over 200 TV scripts and several Broadway hits.

The author’s afterword tells us that he’s serious about the environmental dangers in his novel, although his plot has holes bigger than those worrisome spaces in the ozone layer. Well, there’s this gigantic think-tank, Kingsley International Group, led by Tanner Kingsley, and we’re not sure what its goals are. Tanner’s brother Andrew, whom he almost kills, is a genius who wins the Nobel Prize for science while trying to guide KIG into saving Third World countries from their various disasters. Tanner, meanwhile, prefers to use the think-tank to become a world powerbroker and the richest man on earth. However, since he’s not that yet, his girlfriend Pauline leaves him for a richer man and has herself elected senator. Meanwhile, several scientists on advanced weather projects for KIG are murdered. Two wives to the murdered men fall into each other’s orbit and find themselves trying to discover why and how the murders came about. Their search for answers takes them all over the country and to Spain, France and England. But, wherever they go, Tanner Kingsley tries to have them murdered by his thug Harry Flint. He’s tracking them through super devices that won’t be on the market for five years, if then, and thus the two women can’t flee his eye or ear no matter how many times they evade Harry Flint. Eventually, and we shouldn’t tell you this but it makes little difference, Tanner holds many countries hostage to crop destruction by weather patterns he controls. You needn’t know more than this.

Sheldon, a schlockmeister beyond dispraise, handles his tale with stupefying skill. Hardly a simplistic sentence passes by without adding to plot and suspense. You race on despite one readable, jaw-dropping inanity after another. Oh, hell, call this is a selling review.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2004

ISBN: 0-06-055934-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2004

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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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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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