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I AM PILGRIM

Two psychos enter, and one psycho leaves. Good entertainment for readers with a penchant for mayhem, piles of bodies and a...

Tom Clancy meets Robin Cook in a thriller that should find a place in many beach bags this summer.

Debut novelist Hayes brings well-refined storytelling chops to the enterprise: He’s written numerous screenplays, including Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Indeed, while reading this novel, one gets the sense it was written to turn into a screenplay or perhaps began life that way, what with its shifting points of view and a narrator who may or may not be reliable. Whatever the case, Hayes gets us into the thick of things right away: Pilgrim, a federal agent, is a brilliant student of the human psyche who just happens to have awesome killing skills that he’s practiced on several continents; in Moscow, for instance, he recounts, “even though I was young and inexperienced I killed my boss like a professional.” Don’t give him a bad performance review, then. He finds plenty of scope for his talents when put up against a former mujahedeen ominously code-named The Saracen, who’s resolved to wreak all kinds of havoc on the West for its offenses against Islam. He’s a bad, bad man—the fact that he wasn’t killed in the war along with a million other Afghans, Hayes writes, “would make most people question if not God’s existence at least His common sense.” Hayes is a master of the extremely gruesome scene—the opening involves an acid bath, and later we get popped eyeballs, beheadings and all kinds of grisliness. The story does go on a hundred pages too long and gets sidelined here and there, but it has considerable strengths, and the author gets points for avoiding at least some clichés and putting a few Arabs into key good-guy (or good-girl) positions.

Two psychos enter, and one psycho leaves. Good entertainment for readers with a penchant for mayhem, piles of bodies and a lethal biochemical agent or two.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4391-7772-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: Emily Bestler/Atria

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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DEVOLUTION

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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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. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE SILENT PATIENT

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

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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. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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