Berry sticks to his successful but bland fact-and-fantasy format.

THE CHARLEMAGNE PURSUIT

Secret-agent-turned-bookseller Cotton Malone searches for the truth about his father’s death; uncovers revelations about a brilliant early civilization spurned by the Nazis; and earns the enmity of an endlessly evil admiral.

Our manly middle-aged recurring hero (The Venetian Betrayal, 2007, etc.) barely remembers his father, a naval officer whose submarine sank without a trace in 1971 when Malone was just ten, but he’s got a line on the truth about that sinking, an incident the Navy has covered up to the present day. Malone’s ex-boss Stephanie Nelle discharges a debt by producing a top-secret report on the sinking, long kept buried by Adm. Langford Ramsey, chief of naval intelligence. In the way of thrillers, Malone must receive the report at a tram stop high in the Alps and villains must immediately try to snatch it back, forcing him to toss a bad man from a moving ski lift and to beat a bad woman within an inch of her life. Within hours, Malone becomes involved with a Bavarian billionaire family, the Oberhausers, whose patriarchs believed that the emperor Charlemagne and his trusty lieutenant Einhard were chums with the Watchers, survivors of a brilliant civilization that had its peak long before the pyramids. Hard-bitten matriarch Isabel Oberhauser and her beautiful but fatally conflicted twin daughters, Christl and Dorothea, are interested in the secret report because the twins’ dad was also on that submarine, which went missing not in the Atlantic, as promulgated by the Navy, but off Antarctica, where the Watchers’ civilization had its heyday. Meanwhile, back in the United States, Adm. Ramsey, who knows everything about that ancient society, has dispatched his favorite hired killer to create an opening at the top of the naval structure and sent another underling to eliminate Malone and the Oberhausers. Thank goodness we have a shrewd president.

Berry sticks to his successful but bland fact-and-fantasy format.

Pub Date: Dec. 9, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-345-48579-3

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2008

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
  • 75

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?

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

Did you like this book?

more