Reading the initial book in the series first makes this taut thriller much more satisfying.

THE KEY

Former British television writer, producer and director Toyne cranks up the drama with the second entry in a conspiracy thriller series.

Taking up where the first volume (Sanctus, 2011) left off, New Jersey news reporter Liv Adamsen awakens to find herself hospitalized in the small Turkish town of Ruin. Liv is not alone: Kathryn Mann and a monk from the Citadel are also recovering from injuries sustained when fleeing the mysterious fortress. However, there are forces at hand determined to destroy all three, and that is something Kathryn’s son, Gabriel, cannot allow to happen. Gabriel helps Liv escape and find her way back home to the U.S., then begins to look for a way to return to the Citadel, which is now seemingly under assault from nature itself. Blighted trees and a dying garden have spread their disease to the humans who occupy the Catholic fortress, and no one knows how to stop what appears to be an impending worldwide catastrophe. As the Vatican’s moneyman, Cardinal Secretary Clementi, plots to eliminate Liv and her co-conspirators, Gabriel forges an alliance to help fend off what appears to be the realization of the End of Days. As he battles to save Liv from a terrible fate, Gabriel finds that one of the most important events of his life was a lie and that allies exist in places he would never have suspected. Toyne's first novel, Sanctus, set up the story of the Citadel and the mysterious thing it guards. Well-written, fast-paced and delivered with an admirable economy of words, this book offers an edge-of-the-seat story filled with action and adventure, as well as a puzzle that the main characters must somehow put together before the world simply disappears. If the book has a flaw, it’s that it doesn’t stand alone, and readers who have not progressed from the first book to the second will spend the first half trying to figure out what’s happening.

Reading the initial book in the series first makes this taut thriller much more satisfying.

Pub Date: June 19, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-203833-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 42

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more