Coonts’s action and the techno-talk are as gripping as ever.

AMERICA

The theft of a SuperAegis antiballistic-missile satellite launches this latest Jake Grafton technothriller from Coonts (Hong Kong, 2000, etc.).

The satellite, first of eight to be sent up as a worldwide shield against missiles, lifts off, swerves off-course, fails to fire its third-stage booster or destruct as ordered, and, with all tracking stations suddenly down, disappears. Then really bad stuff happens at a Connecticut sub base when Russian and German hirelings hijack the brand-new USS America, a stealth submarine of fabulous resources. (Rather improbably, the takeover takes place amid submachine gun fire inside the sub, endangering the hull as well as sending rounds ricocheting who knows where in a cramped space.) After dumping half the crew overboard and holding the rest as hostages, the hijackers try to comprehend just what they’ve hijacked. The America’s power lever is merely a computer joystick. The sub has no periscope, only a mast with light sensors that read photonic signals and a 25-gigabyte-per-second Revelation computer that processes a fantastic digital picture of the entire ocean about them: “The sea was as clear as glass. He could see hulls of other boats, buoys, the bottom of the sound, the shards of a sunken ship.” Black magic? No, but the hijackers find themselves deep into electronics that strain their resources. Meanwhile, chief investigator Marine Commandant Flap Le Beau uses Jake Grafton as his point man in trying to connect the sub hijacking with the satellite’s disappearance. Soon the America fires E-bombs that crunch nearly all electronic devices in a ten-mile radius, downing jetliners and leaving New York and Washington without power, while the Pentagon runs on emergency generators with only a few computers online. Hudson Security Services sends an assassin to do in Grafton, who learns that Zelda Hudson stole the sub to recover the satellite, which sank ten miles off Cape Barbas, so she could sell SuperAegis. But to whom?

Coonts’s action and the techno-talk are as gripping as ever.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2001

ISBN: 0-312-25341-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2001

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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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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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