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THE OLD MAN

Swift, unsentimental, and deeply satisfying. Liam Neeson would be perfect in the title role.

Perry (Forty Thieves, 2016, etc.) drives deep into Jack Reacher territory in this stand-alone about a long-ago Army intelligence officer whose less-than-grateful nation just won’t let him be.

Dispatched to Libya a generation ago to deliver $20 million to Faris Hamzah for distribution to rebel fighters, Michael Kohler watched as Hamzah sat on the money, purchasing a Rolls-Royce, financing a cadre of personal bodyguards, and doing everything except pass the bundle to the intended recipients. So Kohler grabbed the rest of the money and hightailed it back to the USA. His offers to return the money to the National Security Agency fell on the deaf ears of bureaucrats who informed him that he was a wanted criminal who’d better turn himself in and face the music. So Kohler went off the grid as Dan Chase, of Norwich, Vermont, invested the money cautiously, and set up several false identities, just in case. Ten years after his wife died, his past catches up with him in the shape of two Arab-looking men who break into his house while he’s supposed to be asleep. After taking care of business with brutal efficiency, he goes on the lam once more. As Peter Caldwell he drives to Chicago, where he meets Zoe McDonald, who’s quickly drawn to him. They make some sweet memories together as Henry and Marcia Dixon; then it’s time once more for Henry to leave. Julian Carson, the special ops contractor assigned to locate Dixon and set him up for the kill, ends up sympathizing with him instead—especially after he helps arrange the return of the $20 million and sees that it doesn’t lessen the pressure on Dixon—and passes on the information that allows the Dixons to escape, though it doesn’t exactly feel like an escape to Marcia. They retreat to an isolated cabin in Big Bear; Carson quits the assignment and marries his Arkansas sweetheart. Both men wait for the inevitable, and in the fullness of time, it arrives with guns ablaze.

Swift, unsentimental, and deeply satisfying. Liam Neeson would be perfect in the title role.

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2586-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Mysterious Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

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. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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