THE CHEMIST

A professional torturer on the run from her employers falls in with sexy twin brothers.

You probably know Meyer as the then-27-year-old Mormon housewife who woke up from a dream about vampires and gave the world Twilight, though in addition to that series she has already published one adult thriller (The Host, 2008). In her latest, she marries the genres of spy versus spy and throbbing romance novel with good results. Meet Juliana, or Alex, or Casey, or Chris—whatever her alias of the moment is, she’s an operative with a medical school background who specializes in chemically controlled torture and interrogation. Somewhere along the line, she learned too much about the secrets of her employers, and she now lives in a state of high-tech paranoia, sleeping in a bathtub wearing a gas mask in a secret location booby-trapped at every possible ingress. When her old boss calls her in for one last mission, she’s not sure she isn’t being double-crossed—but nonetheless proceeds with the kidnapping of Washington, D.C., schoolteacher Daniel Beach, who's purportedly part of a vile plot to release a virus that will wreak global doom. In fact, he is a man whose deep inner goodness is rivaled only by his scorching outer hotness—but our socially awkward virgin heroine won’t realize this until after she’s taken him to her secret lair, stripped him naked, strapped him to a table, and injected him with compounds that produce pure agony for 10 minutes at a time. The biochemical magic between them is even more powerful than the nasty drugs, and by the time his identical twin brother, a swashbuckling black-ops type, shows up to kill her and rescue him, love has bloomed in the torture chamber. As they begin to see through the layers of cross and double cross, the two agents decide to join forces and go into hiding together, with the brother of course, on a ranch in Texas with a pack of trained superdogs. A tale of skulduggery, bodice rippery, and shoot-'em-up action unfolds, complete with help from a luscious mistress of disguise who could have stepped right out of a James Bond novel.

Rated B for badass.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-38783-5

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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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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