A frank indulgence for the author and readers who share his preference for abrupt scene changes over a consequential plot.

DISTANT THUNDER

Stone Barrington’s latest dalliance with President Holly Barker at his Maine island retreat is interrupted by the discovery of a dead man.

CIA director Lance Cabot commands that the twice-shot man, who's carrying CIA identification under the name John Collins, be moved from the deck of the Dark Harbor ferry to Stone’s garage, but Holly doesn't think he actually knows the dead man. When Stone returns home to Manhattan, he's soon visited by Collins’ widow, model-turned–fashion magazine editor Vanessa Morgan whom he proceeds to solace between the sheets. He’s disconcerted when Vanessa reports that the husband whose death interrupted their divorce is very much alive. Stone and his old NYPD partner, Commissioner Dino Bacchetti, are soon in a position to confirm these reports—and so is Lance, despite his initial resistance to them. Sadly, Jack Collins, who turns out to be a friend of Stone’s from NYU Law School, is given precious little to do after returning from the grave, as the focus shifts to Stone’s attempts to keep Vanessa and himself from being targeted for death by Valery Majorov, the Russian operative who thought he’d killed Jack. Stone spirits Vanessa off to Windward Hall, his estate in England, where he introduces her to MI6 director Dame Felicity Devonshire and they all fall into bed together. On their return to New York, though, both Stone and Vanessa find themselves in the sights of a resourceful female assassin who just won’t take no for an answer.

A frank indulgence for the author and readers who share his preference for abrupt scene changes over a consequential plot.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-54003-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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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 book isn’t compelling or believable as a thriller, but the author has potential in other directions.

THE HOUSE IN THE PINES

Years after a young woman's sudden death in her best friend’s kitchen, a viral video reopens questions left unanswered.

Still struggling to emerge from the wake of the tragedy she witnessed the summer before she left for college, Maya Edwards has built a life for herself with a nice guy named Dan and has vowed to stop using Klonopin to manage anxiety and insomnia. Then “Girl Dies on Camera” appears on social media. In it, a young woman pitches over dead at a table in a diner in Maya’s hometown of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. As Maya sees to her horror, the woman was with Frank Bellamy, an older man/weirdo she dated that terrible senior summer. Frank was present when her best friend, Aubrey West, died the same way as the woman in the video, with no cause ever determined. Maya’s always thought Frank had something to do with it. Now she's sure and takes a trip home to see what she can find out. As a thriller, Reyes’ debut is weak. The suspense is minimal, with no sense that Frank is coming for Maya or that it actually matters whether these crimes are solved. In fact, the main threat to Maya’s well-being is the difficulty of Klonopin withdrawal and the heavy drinking she is doing to get through it, endangering her relationship with Dan, and the most interesting storyline concerns Maya’s mother and father. Brenda Edwards met Jairo Ek Basurto while on a missionary trip in Guatemala; he was murdered at the age of 22 before Brenda even knew she was pregnant. He left behind an uncompleted manuscript which Maya translated around the time she met Frank but then stuffed in a drawer; it turns out to have inspiration for her now. One of the most interesting conversations in the novel is between Maya and her mother, discussing the manuscript and the idea that our souls have a “true home” elsewhere. One would rather read a book about Brenda and Maya and skip Frank and his house in the pines altogether.

The book isn’t compelling or believable as a thriller, but the author has potential in other directions.

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-18671-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: yesterday

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