Weightless characters on a choppy sea—but hellishly riveting. (First printing of 250,000; film rights to Disney;...

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MEG

As Jaws meets Jurassic Park, Meg (short for megladon) brings us a 60-foot, 20-ton prehistoric shark with a nine-foot-wide mouth that is likely to gobble up bestseller lists, as well as reappear in 1998 as a summer blockbuster.

In rather characterless prose, debut novelist Alten's well-groomed story rockets like a pre-edited filmscript from event to event. But the author's love of his title character is clear, as he keeps his Lord and Master of the Sea, a female Carcharodon Megalodon, frequently front and center. Seven years ago, Professor Jonas Taylor, a paleontologist and deep-sea submersible pilot, first saw such a shark, thought to be extinct, while diving more than seven miles down in the Marianas Trench. During the Ice Age, members of the species, it turns out, took refuge in the hot thermals on the ocean bottom. Lethally cold water above has kept from them resurfacing. Jonas's first encounter cost two lives, and has burdened him with profound guilt. He goes back down to the abyss anyway, accompanied by Masao Tanaka, the owner of a huge aquarium on the California coast. When a male Megalodon gets entrapped in steel cables in the trench, he's attacked by a pregnant female; she follows the male to the surface, surviving the journey, and discovers a warm new world, filled with varied, easy, hot-blooded prey. Clearly, the shark is an ecological disaster, especially when she gives birth to three more of her kind. Taylor and Tanaka, however, don't want to destroy the shark but rather to harness her drugged body and haul it into confinement. This means some vastly dangerous close work with her once she's located, with Taylor hovering about the monster in a submersible that becomes the instrument of an utterly amazing climax. A female offspring in captivity at story's end guarantees a sequel.

Weightless characters on a choppy sea—but hellishly riveting. (First printing of 250,000; film rights to Disney; Literary Guild main selection)

Pub Date: July 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-385-48905-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1997

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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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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