Longtime fans of the series who refuse to hold their breath waiting for these two plots to be connected—this is Woods, after...

CONTRABAND

New York lawyer Stone Barrington (Wild Card, 2019, etc.) celebrates his 50th appearance by bedding two new women, each of whom leads him to criminal complications.

Minding his own business lying on the deck of his yacht off Key West, Stone hears, then sees, an airplane falling from the sky. He dives into the water, pulls the pilot to safety even before a police chopper can arrive, and discovers that the rescue diver is a beautiful woman. Since Detective Max—don’t call her Maxine—Crowley of the Key West Police Department doesn’t believe in one-night stands, she and Stone don’t have sex till their second night together. By that time, someone has already relieved the wrecked plane of the watertight suitcases Stone saw perfectly well as he was grabbing pilot Al Dix, who disappears from the hospital shortly after a woman masquerading as a nurse tries to kill him. It’s only a matter of time before the plane itself vanishes, leading NYPD Commissioner Dino Bacchetti, an old friend of Stone's, to reflect sagely, “missing pilot, missing cargo, and now, missing airplane.” With nothing more than Max’s charms to keep him in Key West, Stone is soon back in New York, where he’s picked up at a bar by clothing designer Roberta Calder, who, on learning that Stone doesn’t sleep with married women, announces that she wants to divorce Randall Hedger, her estranged husband. To avoid an unseemly conflict of interest, Stone hands the proceedings over to his associate Herb Fisher, who’s doing a great job until the murders of Hedger and Robbie’s friend Estelle Parkinson, a socialite, make Robbie’s divorce unnecessary but accentuate her need for legal representation even further when she’s arrested for murder. With this many felonies to keep track of, it’s no wonder the cast consumes a record number of gimlets.

Longtime fans of the series who refuse to hold their breath waiting for these two plots to be connected—this is Woods, after all—will be pleasantly surprised when they do. Who said the age of miracles is past?

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-593-08313-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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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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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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